from the sound-and-fury,-signifying-nothing dept
It’s the dumb saga that only seems to get dumber. Earlier this week, we noted that Trump’s dumb and arguably unconstitutional order banning TikTok had resulted in (surprise) Trump friend and Oracle boss Larry Ellison nabbing a cozy little partnership for his fledgling cloud hosting business. Granted the deal itself does absolutely nothing outside of providing Oracle a major client. It’s more cronyism and heist than serious adult policy, yet countless outlets still somehow framed the entire thing as somehow meaningful, ethical, and based in good faith (it’s none of those things).
Senator Josh Hawley, one of the biggest TikTok pearl clutchers in Congress, obviously didn’t much like the deal. Hawley sent an open letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin calling the deal “completely unacceptable” and demanding an outright ban:
Hawley’s major complaint is correct in that the deal does absolutely nothing to thwart Chinese intelligence from collecting TikTok data since ByteDance would still own TikTok and control all algorithms:
“CFIUS should promptly reject any Oracle-ByteDance collaboration, and send the ball back to ByteDance’s court so that the company can come up with a more acceptable solution. ByteDance can still pursue a full sale of TikTok, its code, and its algorithm to a U.S. company, so that the app can be rebuilt from the ground up to remove any trace of CCP influence.”
Here’s the thing that Hawley, and every other TikTok pearl clutcher, can’t or won’t understand: even a full ban of TikTok doesn’t meaningfully thwart Chinese intelligence. Why? U.S. privacy and security standards are a joke. Sectors like telecom, adtech, and apps are such a rarely, often poorly regulated dumpster fire, China can simply buy or steal this (and so much more) data from an absolute ocean of dodgy information brokers and middlemen.
Banning TikTok to protect U.S. consumer privacy is like spitting on a wildfire then patting yourself on the back for a job well done. The real solutions to these problems require taking a far smarter, broader, more holistic view. That means passing a meaningful privacy law, shoring up election reform, adequately funding privacy regulators, passing some standards for the IOT, adequately securing decade-old U.S. network vulnerabilities, mandating transparency in the adtech, telecom, and other sectors, and better policing the collection and sale of U.S. location and other data. Fix the broader problem and TikTok becomes a detail.
Hawley not only doesn’t seem to understand that, he’s actively opposed to many of these broader reform efforts.
Hawley, much like Marsha Blackburn or Tom Cotton, oddly adores freaking out when China is involved, but is either absent from — or detrimental to — efforts to shore op overall U.S. privacy and security standards and oversight. Blackburn, Cotton, or Hawley don’t make so much as a peep when U.S. telecom providers get mired in privacy scandals. They’ve said nary a word about the dodgy adtech sector and the way it sells access to U.S. user location data to any moron with a nickel. They’ve actively opposed election security reform, adequately funding or staffing the FTC, or passing even the most basic of privacy rules.
And yet when a Chinese company develops a product that outperforms the best Silicon Valley has to offer, there are months upon months of absolute and total “security and privacy” hysteria. It’s just weird how, for some folks, security and privacy only seem to matter when foreigners are involved. It’s performative, xenophobic, wildly inconsistent, and largely just stupid. Either you genuinely care about U.S. security and privacy or you don’t. Showing up late, crying about China, then disappearing entirely when broader solutions are recommended isn’t “helping,” it’s performative histrionics.
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Filed Under: china, executive order, josh hawley
Companies: oracle, tiktok
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