Jan 27, 2023
TikTok General Counsel No Longer Oversees US Relations
(Bloomberg) -- ByteDance Ltd.’s general counsel is no longer overseeing US government relations for TikTok, part of a shuffle to improve the company’s standing during intense national security scrutiny, according to people familiar with the matter.
TikTok has been in contact with US officials who oversee national security issues, trying to avoid the government banning the app in the US.
Erich Andersen, the general counsel of its Chinese owner ByteDance, was in charge of working with officials and trying to find a compromise that would keep TikTok available while protecting US user data. In the fall, he lost that responsibility, said people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because it’s an internal matter. Andersen will continue to lead the work with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, one of the people said.
“The scope of Erich’s role has changed to allow him to focus more deeply on the company’s legal, trust and safety work,” a TikTok spokesperson said.
It’s unclear who has taken over. Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas, is still in that job.
The company is awaiting a decision by Cfius, a government panel that focuses on risks posed by foreign control of domestic businesses. The process in recent months has been stalled at the Justice Department and faced open criticism from the FBI.
TikTok has said it doesn’t share data with the Chinese government and has strict access controls on user data for its employees and those of its parent company. Still, last month, ByteDance said some employees improperly accessed American user data in an attempt to track journalists.
Meanwhile, attempts to ban the app have picked up steam in Congress. US Representative Michael McCaul said he plans to have the House Foreign Affairs Committee vote next month on a new bill to ban TikTok in the country.
(Updates to add context about Congressional efforts to ban TikTok in final paragraph.)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.