Trump And Oracle's Dumb TikTok Cronyism Falls Apart

from the end-of-the-line dept

Remember when America spent a year and a half hyperventilating about a Chinese teen dancing app instead of securing American infrastructure from Russian hackers or other threats? Remember when a bunch of GOP officials with a long track record of not caring whatsoever about consumer privacy or internet security exploited xenophobic fears about the app to land political allies Oracle and Walmart a major windfall? Remember when 90% of the press couldn’t be bothered to inform readers this was all performative cronyism by an unqualified nitwit? Good times.

This morning the Wall Street Journal announced that the much hyped deal to sell ByteDance-owned TikTok to Oracle and Walmart is looking unsurprisingly dead in the wake of previous legal challenges and Trump’s election loss. Instead, the government appears poised to do what made sense from the start: focus on the broader problem of lax privacy and dodgy security standards across the board in telecom/adtech/tech, instead of singling out a teen dancing app:

“We plan to develop a comprehensive approach to securing U.S. data that addresses the full range of threats we face,? National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said. ?This includes the risk posed by Chinese apps and other software that operate in the U.S. In the coming months, we expect to review specific cases in light of a comprehensive understanding of the risks we face.”

Again, this whole effort was about little more than Trump trying to gain leverage in a ham-fisted and unproductive trade war, while using the power of his office to hand over a successful business to his political buddies at Oracle and Walmart. Yet somehow, they managed to get the majority of the US technology press to believe this was some genuine, good faith effort to shore up consumer privacy. There were a few exceptions to this rule in press and policy circles, but they were the exception, not the norm:

Of course it was never really about security and privacy, since there’s a parade of other more pressing issues Trump and the GOP clearly didn’t care about. Trumpland opposed absolutely anything even resembling consumer privacy rules and standards for the internet era. It opposed funding improved election security. It clearly failed to secure US networks from hackers, and did little to nothing to shore up very real US security vulnerabilities be it the SS7 flaw or the dumpster fire that is the internet of broken things. They didn’t genuinely care about internet privacy and security. They just didn’t.

As such this wasn’t just a failure for Trump, it was an immense failure for the US technology press, which successfully parroted Trump’s claims that they were just really worried about consumer data privacy, despite zero evidence on any other front that this was actually true. While the Journal tries to feebly suggest that a deal could still be struck to sell TikTok, that doesn’t seem likely. Instead the saga appears to be dying with a sad, quiet whimper, with the only winners being those who gobbled up the millions in billable legal hours to pursue this idiotic tech policy brain fart.

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Companies: oracle, tiktok, walmart

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Comments on “Trump And Oracle's Dumb TikTok Cronyism Falls Apart”

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hij (profile) says:

All while the former Parler app sold them out

While the previous administration was pointing and shouting at the potential evils of tik tok a good number of their supporters are running from the federales because they were sold out by their other apps (including Parler). The location data that was harvested during the riots at the US Capitol building turned out to have the same privacy flaws. Of course few in power want to point out the systemic flaws that led to this, but quite a few are more than happy to entertain those who are more concerned about bizarre and grotesquely contorted theories involving Bill Gates, 5G, and vaccines that do the same thing.

John85851 (profile) says:

Blame the media

Once again, I have to ask: why didn’t more people in the media push back on this nonsense story? Why weren’t more people saying there were more important things to worry about?

So, once again, we should blame the media for going along with Trump’s ideas rather than standing up to him and saying his TikTok deal was a bad idea.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Blame the media

[W]hy didn’t more people in the media push back on this nonsense story?

Easy. Because when you’re a journalism student, you aren’t required to know/learn anything about how the internet works, nor about security of anything at all, nor of….. need I go on?

Why weren’t more people saying there were more important things to worry about?

Welcome to the world of sound-bites, the culture where the it doesn’t matter what was said, only that it was stated in 15 seconds or less. Any item requiring more time is relegated to the late-night talking heads. And yes, it’s a fookin’ shame, but that’s what the advertisers want – a lot of in-between spots to dragoon your ears/eyes for some good old fashioned craptastic blathering about nothing that’d ever interest you.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anon says:

Simple - Revenge

This was simple revenge, because Tik-Tok had someone who managed to get teen followers to order hundreds of thousands of complimentary tickets online for a Trump Covid-Spreader rally; actual live people stayed away in droves, the hyped rally was a dud, and Trump looked stupid(er). Revenge on Tik-Tok was called for regardless whether it was logical or legal…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Simple - Revenge

This is how the "we must change/kill Section 230" thing works. We are mad at Company X and must have revenge on them because something people who use the platform did. Never mind that the bad revenge plan against the badly targeted company won’t even get them the satisfaction which they think they want. It’s sheer fractal-fail.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Simple - Revenge

Which is actually a good thing, in a sense. It will be very concerning when a competent fascist gains power in the US, but thankfully most of Trump’s actions were done via easily reversible executive orders – and made no sense outside of his tiny mind and fragile ego, so make no sense for anyone to continue after he was fired.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Simple - Revenge

Good in the short term perhaps but all sorts of horrifying for the long term, as what kept Trump from causing more damage than he did was not the system or any sort of checks and balances(if anything he just showed how easy those are to bypass or corrupt) but his ineptitude.

If someone that stupid and prone to sabotaging his own efforts was able to cause as much damage as he did and get away with it I shudder to think of what will happen when a competent would-be-tyrant gets into office.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Simple - Revenge

Indeed. Let’s hope that now that it’s exposed just how fragile the system is, fixes are made to prevent a competent fascist from destroying the country. It’s not necessarily likely, especially with the Republicans playing their usual "we’ll vote to let the country burn if the fire extinguisher was bought by the Democrats" game. But, the lessons are there to be learned before the next time someone comes along to pour petrol on it.

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