For more than 20 years, Mike Masnick has been writing prolifically on the intersection of technology, freedom of speech, IP law, and politics at the award-winning blog Techdirt, helping to elevate awareness of how these crucial issues are impacting society.
Joining the podcast with Robert Amsterdam today, Masnick discusses the recent drama around the Trump administration’s peculiar intervention against the popular Chinese-created video app, TikTok, and what this means for the future free and open internet and innovation in Silicon Valley.
Following last month’s executive order to effectively “ban” TikTok from US users (which is now held up in appeals), a number of potential buyers have come forward, interestingly some with close financial ties to the president’s re-election campaign.
Masnick is not buying the argument that TikTok represents a unique national security threat to the United States, at least not a threat any different from the common data brokers collecting information from a wide variety of apps.
“There are lots of apps that collect too much data, and there’s no evidence that they are doing anything particularly nefarious with it,” says Masnick. “If there are concerns about that data and China getting access to it, there are lots of ways that they could get access – for example by just walking up to one of many, often American owned, data brokerage firms and laying down a credit card and pretty much obtaining access to that same data.”
Masnick and Amsterdam also discuss the Trump administration’s recent interest in repealing Section 230, the cornerstone legal framework that allows for free expression online, as well as the lobbying power of the copyright industry, state-sponsored efforts to spur innovation, and what policies and practices by the big social media companies could have an impact on the upcoming election.