TikTok's parent firm ByteDance spent more than US$2.1 million in the second quarter to lobby the US government, according to the recent disclosure it filed in a federal database and seen by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE . This is more than a 100% jump from the US$930k it spent during the first quarter of the year. It is also the first time ByteDance's lobbying efforts have exceeded US$2 million in a single quarter since it first declared lobbying disclosures in 2019.
Meanwhile, ByteDance spent US$1.8 million on lobbying during Q2 2021. For the whole of last year, ByteDance spent approximately US$4.7 billion on lobbying, according to the disclosures seen by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE .
During the second quarter, ByteDance lobbied on a range of issues related to Internet technology and learning-enabled content platforms. They include the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, America COMPETES Act of 2022, No TikTok on Department of Homeland Security Devices Act, and National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act, in particular, is a bill that prohibits a platform owner to favour its products, services, or lines of business over others that would materially harm competition.
It also lobbied issues related to privacy, data security, data localisation, protecting children, intermediary liability, and platform/content moderation. These include the Children and Teens' Online Privacy Protection Act, Kids Online Safety Act, and American Data Privacy and Protection Act.
TikTok's relationship with the US government hasn't exactly been a smooth sailing one due to its Chinese ownership. In 2020, it was banned in India and then-US president Donald Trump was expected to take "strong action" on Chinese-owned social media apps for "engaging in information warfare".
Months later, ByteDance named Oracle its technology provider , edging out Microsoft in the race to acquire TikTok's US operations. Two years later, TikTok announced just this month that it has completed the migration of information on its US users to Oracle's servers. According to Reuters, this move would address US regulatory concerns over data integrity on the app.
While TikTok has maintained that it does not store US user data in China, a BuzzFeed News article reported that ByteDance employees were in fact able to access non-public US user data, CNBC said . Prior to the article going live, Albert Calamug, US Security Public Policy, TikTok said in a blog post that TikTok has long stored US user data in its own data centres in the US and Singapore.
For more than a year, the company has been working with "Today, 100% of US user traffic is being routed to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. We still use our US and Singapore data centres for backup, but as we continue our work we expect to delete US users' private data from our own data centers and fully pivot to Oracle cloud servers located in the US," Calamug added.
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