Conflicts of Interest, Fearmongering, and Data Control Under the Guise of National Security

by | May 14, 2024

Conflicts of Interest, Fearmongering, and Data Control Under the Guise of National Security

by | May 14, 2024

depositphotos 359631896 s

In a recent article in The Washington Post, their spotlight falls on a group of tech billionaires, former government officials, and industry advisers who have orchestrated a campaign against TikTok, culminating in calls for its ban or forced sale. This concerted effort, under the guise of national security and American nationalism, raises serious concerns about conflicts of interest, fear-mongering tactics, and the true motivations behind their actions.

First and foremost, the article sheds light on the alarming, if predictable, prevalence of conflicts of interest within this group. Led by Jacob Helberg, a former employee at Google and the U.S. government, this coalition of individuals, including billionaire investor Peter Thiel and various defense contractors, has wielded significant influence in Washington, pushing for legislation and executive orders aimed at dismantling perceived threats from Chinese-owned tech companies. However, their ties to the defense industry and financial interests in domestic AI development raise questions about their impartiality and true intentions.

Furthermore, Helberg’s book, The Wires of War, which served as a foundational piece for their campaign against TikTok, has been criticized by this author for its speculative nature and lack of transparency with regards to its sources. By fueling fears of a technological clash between Western democracies and authoritarian regimes, Helberg and his associates have exploited national security concerns to advance their own agendas. The absence of credible sources and verifiable evidence undermines the credibility of their claims and exposes the inherent bias driving their narrative.

Most importantly, the focus on TikTok as a national security threat overlooks the real issue at hand: data control and privacy. While the group portrays TikTok as a tool of the Chinese Communist Party, a claim for which they have never provided any evidence in support of, the true motivation behind their crusade may lie in TikTok’s refusal to comply with U.S. government demands for user data. Unlike other tech giants that readily cooperate with government surveillance programs, TikTok has been a target precisely because it challenges the status quo and prioritizes user privacy.

Moreover, the TikTok ban serves as a convenient way for Washington to assert control over a platform that has become increasingly popular among American users. By framing TikTok as a foreign adversary, the government can justify its intervention and appease domestic tech companies that view TikTok as a competitive threat—either they will get a chance to swallow it or its market share. in either case, their market power increases. This collusion between government officials and industry insiders highlights the blurred lines between national security interests and corporate agendas, ultimately jeopardizing the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens.

In short, the concerted efforts of tech moguls, former government officials, and defense contractors to vilify TikTok under the pretext of national security must be met with skepticism and scrutiny. Their mutual desire to clamp down on inconvenient challenges to desired narratives, such as Israel’s latest war against the Palestinians, along with their conflicts of interest, fear-mongering tactics, and disregard for privacy rights reveal a self-serving agenda that prioritizes profit and power over the public good. As we navigate the complex landscape of technology and geopolitics, it is imperative that we hold these influential actors accountable and demand transparency, integrity, and respect for democratic values. Only then can we ensure a future where innovation thrives without sacrificing our fundamental rights and freedoms.

Lastly, and on what is surely a totally unrelated note, the former Chair of the House Select Committee on the CCP, Mike Gallagher (R-WI), recently announced that he would not be running for reelection but would rather be joining one of Peter Thiel’s most aggressively ideological companies, Palantir.

The more things change, the more they stay the same…

About Joseph Solis-Mullen

Author of The Fake China Threat and Its Very Real Danger, Joseph Solis-Mullen is a political scientist and economist at the Libertarian Institute. A graduate of Spring Arbor University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Missouri, his work can be found at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, Libertarian Institute, Journal of Libertarian Studies, Journal of the American Revolution, and Antiwar.com. You can contact him via joseph@libertarianinstitute.org or find him on Twitter @solis_mullen.

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