Power

TikTok says it isn’t the enemy – Facebook is

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the State Department and the White House have all made it clear that they are mulling ways to ban TikTok over concerns that it shares data with China.

The TikTok app

The argument serves a dual purpose for TikTok.

Photo: Kon Karampelas

In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning, TikTok's top lobbyist, Michael Beckerman, said the company hopes to "set the record straight" about its ties to China, whether it poses a national security threat to the U.S. and how its existence counteracts the massive power of dominant social media companies like Facebook.

"Without TikTok, all that users would be left with is copycats offered by the same players who already dominate the online landscape," wrote Beckerman in a thinly veiled jab at Facebook, which is working to spin up a TikTok copycat called Reels.

TikTok sent the letter hours before Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai are set to appear before the committee to address questions around their market dominance. The tech executives, and particularly Zuckerberg, are likely to call out TikTok by name, claiming the mega-popular video app's rise is a sign of a healthy, competitive online marketplace.

For the most part, Beckerman made it clear that he agrees TikTok is a serious competitor — but that the company is concerned that Facebook is attempting to wield its market power to crush it.

The argument serves a dual purpose for TikTok: It both frames Facebook as a monopolist strangling an upstart competitor and discourages lawmakers from moving forward with plans to push TikTok out from U.S. markets over their concerns that TikTok is excessively cozy with the Chinese government. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the State Department and the White House have all made it clear that they are mulling ways to ban TikTok over concerns that it shares data with China (which Beckerman insists it does not do.)

In addition to the letter, TikTok's new CEO, Kevin Mayer, on Wednesday morning posted his first public remarks, which mainly revolve around how TikTok helps keep competition alive in the U.S., despite Facebook's alleged efforts to quash the company,

"At TikTok we welcome competition," Mayer wrote. "To those who wish to launch competitive products, we say bring it on."

"TikTok has become the latest target," he wrote. "But we are not the enemy."

Read Beckerman's full letter her (PDF):

TikTok_Letter_re_House_Antitrust_Hearing_2020.07.29_FINAL.pdf

Protocol | Fintech

How European fintech startup N26 is preparing for U.S. regulations

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In an interview with Protocol, Stephanie Balint, N26's U.S. general manager, discussed the company's approach to regulations in the U.S.

Photo: N26

N26's monster $900 million funding round announced Monday underlined the German startup's momentum in the digital banking market.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

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Apple’s new MacBooks are the future — and the past

After years of reinventing the wheel, Apple's back to just building really good ones.

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Photo: Apple

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Protocol | Workplace

#AppleToo activist says Apple fired her for deleting apps from her devices

Janneke Parrish says she was dismissed after deleting Robinhood, Pokemon Go and Google Drive from her work devices during an investigation inside the company.

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Photo: Bloomberg via Getty

Unlike most other companies, Apple asks that its employees use their work phones like personal ones — and for five years, Apple program manager Janneke Parrish did as she was told. But last week, when Apple asked Parrish for her devices in an internal investigation, she was afraid Apple would see her personal and private information. She disobeyed orders and deleted apps like Robinhood, Pokemon Go and Google Drive. Then Apple fired her.

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