Chinese video app TikTok has set its sights on the City of London to establish new offices, seeking to purchase 90,000 square feet of space in the Kaleidoscope offices in Farringdon – a move that is causing speculation that the Chinese company may base its headquarters in the UK rather than the US. The deal TikTok made with the US; to sell a piece of TikTok to Walmart and the US software giant Oracle is currently in limbo because China is blocking the export of TikTok’s proprietary algorithm. In the UK meanwhile, TikTok has already been heavily recruiting. London is taking the lead position in recruitment at the company, ahead of offices in Singapore, Berlin, Dublin and Paris.
ByteDance, the company who owns the TikTok app is a $140 billion dollar Chinese social media company founded by 37 year old Zhang Yimin who is known as an Artificial Intelligence savant. Zhang created the cutting edge AI driven algorithm that fuels all of ByteDance’s platforms like ‘Doujin’, the Chinese version of TikTok with 600 million daily users. Both apps use the same logo and similar algorithms.
Bloomberg reported on August 26th of this year that some Conservative Party members have already voiced concerns about TikTok. Conservative lawmaker Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling, and Chair of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has questioned ByteDance’s reputation with China, tweeting that “TikTok is a form of surveillance malware”.
Iain Duncan Smith warned that “With a flashy campus in the UK, ByteDance would be free to ‘masquerade’ as a British equivalent to Facebook or Google, gaining credibility in London”.
Previous reports from The Telegraph say that Government Ministers are divided on whether to welcome TikTok’s expansion in the UK, due to rising trade tensions between the UK and China. Top advisors have said in relation to data security concerns that they may impose restrictions of TikTok’s activities in the UK and may recommend the Government to stop the company from moving users’ data out of the country. Although this advice sounds ideal to protect users’ data security, deeper insight reveals that these restrictive measures may be more of a ‘ pipe dream ‘ than a reality.
The Chinese Communist Party knows exactly what Big Data and Artificial Intelligence are capable of and how they can be used to have control over their own people and manipulate those in other countries. The party is confident that their political system guarantees China a reliable advantage in data collection and artificial intelligence application over the free world. An example of how this could be achieved is the difference in law. Western Privacy Law for instance, with regards to Mobile Apps states that – If one company has for example 10 different apps, the information collected on each app remains secure to that app and can only be used by that app. They cannot be combined, interrelated or share each other’s data information or be used to synthesise new data. With this law, this means that a person’s personal information can be significantly restricted. But, for a Chinese company, like ByteDance, along with all other Chinese companies regardless of where their location is or what country they are in, there is no such law.
Klon Kitchen who spent 15 years working for the US Intelligence Community, and is now Director of Technology Policy at the Conservative Heritage Foundation, said in an interview with Bill Whitaker of 60 Minutes: “What makes TikTok particularly concerning is its relationship with the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing, the Government of China. The Chinese have fused their Government and their industry together so that they cooperate to achieve the ends of the state. In China, no big Technology Company is independent of the Chinese Communist Party, the national security and cyber security laws of China require them to operate and build their networks in such a fashion as to where the Government has unfettered access to their data. And so, although the CCP might not ask them for information, it is because they don’t need to, they already have that access to the information”.
The Chinese Communist Party Committee has embedded itself in ByteDance’s headquarters to also make sure the company maintains and abides by communist socialist values.
In 2017 Xi Jinping announced a bold plan for Beijing saying that China would catch up with the United States in artificial intelligence by 2025 and lead the world by 2030. China may have reached that goal earlier than planned, although the US still leads in cutting edge artificial intelligence technology, China has surpassed America in artificial intelligence application, they did this by collecting more data, and more data means better AI.
Most people know that in using mobile technology, information will be collected about them and will be used by marketing companies to target advertising effectively, however, for communist China, data is handled in a very different way.
James Qiu – Former Executive of Apple Inc. was asked in an interview with Simone Gao of NTDTV, to compare the difference in how Google, Facebook and Amazon collects data, with that of TikTok. He responded by saying “Google compared with others, collects information more aggressively for the purpose of Commercial Purpose and Commercial Purpose is just that, it does not involve hacking you, but TikTok is a different story. It is like a dangerous animal because it collects the data and then uses the data to improve their AI algorithm, and as there is no such thing as privacy in China, the company will collect all and every bit of information about that person, and because they have this capability, they can then use this information to train their Artificial Intelligence DeepMind learning model to perfection “.
Klon Kitchen in his interview with Bill Whitaker verified this and said “Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning and you saw a news report saying that China had distributed 100 million sensors around the US and that anytime someone walked past one of these sensors, this sensor automatically collected off your phone, your name, home address, your personal network, who you’re friends with, your on-line viewing habits and a whole host of other pieces of information. Well that is precisely what TikTok is and what it does, it collects all that information”. According to researchers the app starts collecting data the minute it is downloaded, it also tracks everywhere a person goes by using the phone’s IP address and GPS coordinates, providing the app with one’s precise location at all times.
As well as the huge concerns over deep data mining and personal data harvesting there are considerable worries over the TikTok app’s ability to exert influence and manipulation over the user.
Artificial Intelligence experts state that TikTok is designed to make a person addicted to it. This happens because of their powerful algorithm that can detect exactly what a person likes to watch and do; because of its invasive scrutiny of a person’s likes, dislikes, its monitoring of what motivates a person, excites a person; its monitoring of the persons behavioural patterns and so forth, it can learn and gain deep insight into a person very quickly so it quickly knows what content to send the user. In no time at all, the user finds themselves addicted to the content they are sent, flooding the user with content on all that person desires.
James Qiu said in his interview with Simone Gao “The intention of TikTok’s algorithm is to encourage compulsive use of their app, once it becomes a compulsion, users are more susceptible to be manipulated; messaging hidden in seemingly harmless videos goes well beyond making money. TikTok represents a model the Chinese Communist Party is using to influence the world”.
Kara Frederick who spent 6 years working at the Pentagon National Security Agency and who helped set up Facebook’s Counter Terrorism Program, voiced her concerns on November 16th 2020 in an interview on 60 Minutes, she said “The algorithm is what makes TikTok tick and makes it so popular, this app could be a slick vector for disinformation, censorship and propaganda. We know the app censors information about the HongKong protests, the Uyghur Muslims, Tiananmen Square, Tibetan Independence. This app is influencing the use of what people see and if the Chinese Communist Party decides to feed propaganda it can do so very easily and it can feed more and more, it literally pours itself into your soul, its very very invasive “.
Curtis Ellis, Policy Director with non-profit America First Policies, warned back in August this year during an ‘American Thought Leaders’ interview about TikTok’s data harvesting potential and its manipulation tactics. He said “TikTok is a data collection entity, a data collection app that’s disguised as a social media – it collects username information, the IP address of your telephone, of every computer on your wifi network and all this data could be fed into AI systems to understand how people behave right down to predicting how they think, with that knowledge it may be possible to influence people’s behaviour often without them even realising it’s happening. Far beyond simply data collection, it is a persuasion device, it uses artificial intelligence to feed videos, selected curated videos to the users, so you are being fed videos selected by algorithms written by the Chinese Communist Party”.
The Chinese Communist party is intent on dominating and ruling not just China and the Chinese people but the entire rest of the world. To do this, it needs to push and exert its influence and control over other Governments and the world’s people. TikTok is one of the tools it is using to achieve this. Not only is the CCP using TikTok as a spyware tool and a data harvesting tool, it is using TikTok to influence and manipulate the world’s people with its narrative, its objective and its mindset. Children as young as 4 and 5 are known nowadays to have a phone with many having downloaded the insistent app, this means that the Chinese Communist Party now has the ability to infiltrate, influence and brainwash the global younger generation.
Retired US Airforce Brigadier General Robert Spalding explained in an interview with Simone Gao of NTDTV, the CCP’s grand vision for Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. He said “ Chinese AI expert Kai Fu Lee said in 2018 ‘Data is today’s oil and China is today’s Saudi Arabia so, think about the entire world’s data and collection of that data as being tantamount to having power over the world, this is the way the Chinese Communist Party sees the global internet, globalisation and global connectedness and why Xi Jinping insists on a continuous ‘working together’ globally because this way it allows him to take all the data into China, take it to behind the great firewall to create a huge data ocean that the CCP’s artificial intelligence can learn from and they know they can use that, just like TikTok uses a platform to influence, not only to influence their own people in such things like influencing them to not know the true history of China, but also to influence the rest of the world; this is the power and the power that actually Silicon Valley built. The Chinese Communist Party saw that and said ‘Not only do we want that and to have control over that economic engine, we want the ability to influence socially and politically as well’”. Robert Spalding ended by saying “This is the convergence of technology and warfare for the 21st century and this is TikTok”.