TikTok Hires Tech Trade Group Chief to Lead Policy Shop
Michael Beckerman. (Photographer: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg)

TikTok Hires Tech Trade Group Chief to Lead Policy Shop

(Bloomberg) -- TikTok has tapped the head of a top lobbying group for internet companies to lead its Washington policy operations as it confronts mounting pressure in Washington over its ties to China.

Michael Beckerman, the current president of the Internet Association, will be in charge of government relations for the popular music-video app, according to a company spokeswoman. TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Inc., has been grappling with mounting questions from U.S. policy makers over whether it poses a national security risk.

TikTok has been expanding its Washington policy staff as it seeks to persuade U.S. regulators that it is really an American company, Bloomberg has reported.

U.S. officials are currently reviewing whether ByteDance’s $1 billion purchase of social media startup Musical.ly two years ago and its plan to merge it with TikTok would endanger national security.

TikTok rejects the notion it’s controlled by the Chinese government or that U.S. user data is at risk. The company has also battled Facebook Inc. for young users as Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has fanned suspicions about the company.

Beckerman will leave the Internet Association, which represents tech giants such as Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc., Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google on Feb. 29, according to the trade group.

He has led the association’s rapid growth since 2012, and has faced regulatory challenges for internet companies including a law passed in 2018 that curtailed a legal liability shield for websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking.

The trade group is also seeking to stop what it considers overly strict privacy laws and influence policy discussions around content moderation.

Before joining the Internet Association, Beckerman was on the staff of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which oversees most technology policy issues.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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