The TikTok company hired several policy experts in the past week to lobby government officials about a possible ban on the social media application in the United States.
TikTok is not stopping. There is a growing concern in the Trump administration about the national security dangers posed by it and other Chinese platforms and apps. TikTok, in the meantime, is recruiting a strong team of “lobbyists” to address the potential ban and its enforcement in the United States, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced last week on Fox News.
According to CNBC, several experts in the field joined TikTok’s public policy office last week, including Michael Hacker, who previously worked as senior advisor to House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.)—also joining: Michael Bloom (senior vice president of the Internet Association), Carolyn Lowry ( K&L Gates), Dayo Simms (privacy professional for Uber), Albert Calamug (policy advisor for defense and aerospace). Also joining the team is Kim Lipsky, who served as chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
The incoming team is under the wing of Michael Beckerman, former CEO of the Internet Association, the influential group representing the world’s leading Internet companies on public policy issues.
The Chinese application for creating short videos and synchronizing them with music is the most downloaded this year. According to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates, it is estimated that it has been downloaded more than 2 billion times worldwide on the App Store and Google Play.
The growing popularity of this platform has put the Trump administration on alert. Since last year there has been a debate about the danger it poses to national security and user privacy. Chinese companies must share user information with Beijing and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). “TikTok is owned by a Chinese company that includes Chinese Communist Party members in leadership and is requires by Chinese law to share user data with Beijing. TikTok has admitted that it has sent user data to China. To put it bluntly, this is a major security risk for the American people,” Republican lawmaker Josh Hawley said at a Senate hearing in March of this year.
TikTok’s reaction to those statements was swift. In May, it brought in a new U.S. CEO, Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive, to argue that the company is not headquartered in China and does not report to Beijing. Hawley said in a Tweet: “@tiktok_us previously told me they couldn’t attend hearings and testify because executives were located in #China. But this new executive lives in the USA. I look forward to hearing from him. Under oath.” https://t.co/XPfiVpo9Ta—Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 18, 2020.
Amid growing tensions between the United States and China, the banning of TikTok in the United States could mean a very low blow to the eastern company, which in June was also banned in India, where most of its users were located.