Looking at You, TikTok: FBI Director on China’s Influence Peddling

[Editor Charlie sez: Very important to understanding why TikTok was banned by US military, was banned in India and will be banned in the US.  Text is available here.]

“Let me be clear: This is not about the Chinese people, and it’s certainly not about Chinese Americans. Every year, the United States welcomes more than 100,000 Chinese students and researchers into this country. For generations, people have journeyed from China to the United States to secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their families—and our society is better for their contributions. So, when I speak of the threat from China, I mean the government of China and the Chinese Communist Party.”

Walk a Mile in His Shoes: Former Internet Association President Michael Beckerman Tapdances to TikTok, But His Mouth is Still Moving So You Know What That Means

Michael Beckerman

Michael “Big Foot” Beckerman has moved from screwing artists at the Internet Association to screwing artists at pay-to-play service TikTok, China’s answer to the $50 handshake.  Banned by multiple departments of the U.S. Government and a fav of pedophiles, TikTok’s new lobbyist has got one thing on his mind–more shoes for Mikey.  Which means tap-dancing around an IPO for TikTok.

And that means distancing TikTok from China.  That’s a challenge because Chinese companies don’t comply with US accounting standards for public companies, which means you’re really buying some pork in a poke and that’s a super spreader for a whole new kind of hog disease.  Given that the SEC is looking into delisting existing Chinese companies and blocking access to US capital markets for new offerings, it’s like that choice between Keds and Jason of Beverly Hills.  Which brand best suits old popsicle toes, do you think?

Politico tells us that Mr. Beckerman’s biggest challenge is making a Chinese company that some think is a thinly veiled state owned enterprise that surveils for the CCP seem like it’s not really Chinese.

TIKTOK IN WASHINGTON — Michael Beckerman took the helm of TikTok’s policy shop just a week before coronavirus-related restrictions got underway. Now the former Internet Association chief is staffing up the company’s first Washington office and trying to make Capitol Hill inroads while the pandemic has brought business as usual to a halt. That’s meant video conferences and phone calls with Hill offices, as well as remote interviews with prospective staff. “We’re moving forward. The company’s doing well and growing, and my hope is when everybody can go back to work, we’ll have the first pieces of our team in place,” Beckerman told MT.

Exactly how big that team will be, Beckerman declined to say. But the company currently has eight openings on its website for D.C. policy experts focused on privacy, content moderation, intellectual property and more. “It’s not going to be a WeWork-size office, I’ll say. We will have a physical office with a team that can tell the story of the company and be really proactive,” he noted. Until now, TikTok has been reluctant to engage lawmakers. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee left an empty witness chair when TikTok declined to appear at two hearings, and the company’s leader, Alex Zhu, canceled a series of Capitol Hill meetings last year. “We’ll be engaging fully with Congress. I can’t speak to specific hearings, but we definitely look forward to telling our story,” Beckerman said.

But here’s the good part:

TikTok’s big D.C. objective is distancing itself from China. The app’s ties to Beijing-based ByteDance have been a source of suspicion in Washington, but Beckerman attributes that to confusion about its corporate structure. TikTok is not a subsidiary of ByteDance, as has been widely reported, he said. Rather, the two companies share a common Cayman Islands-based holding company, also called ByteDance.And though Zhu resides in China, TikTok’s other senior executives are located in the U.S. TikTok is not available in China and data from its U.S. users is not stored there, Beckerman added. “A lot of that anti-China sentiment we really need to clear up and explain how this company is being run independently, and it’s not subject to Chinese law or a subsidiary of a Chinese company,” he said.

Oh that’s MUCH less confusing.  “TikTok is not a subsidiary of ByteDance, as has been widely reported, he said. Rather, the two companies share a common Cayman Islands-based holding company, also called ByteDance.”

What a relief.  Big Foot to the rescue.  I feel so much better now.

This takes “news from the goolag” to a whole new level.

@TheJusticeDept: California Man Pleads Guilty to Using TikTok/Bytedance for Production of Child Pornography

According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, the defendant’s activities initially came to light in or about March of 2017, when the parents of a then six-year-old discovered that the minor had communicated with and created sexually explicit images at the request of another user on the social media application Musical.ly (now TikTok). Law enforcement investigators subsequently identified this user as Jacob Blanco…. In his interview with law enforcement, Blanco admitted that he communicated with at least 50 minors, an admission confirmed by the communications and images stored on his digital media.

Read the press release on Justice.gov