Frank McCourt, the billionaire bidding to buy U.S. part of TikTok, wants users to control their data

McCourt said tech companies have to become more democratic in a conversation with The Texas Tribune’s CEO.

Frank McCourt, the billionaire bidding to buy U.S. part of TikTok, wants users to control their data

In a conversation Thursday with Texas Tribune CEO Sonal Shah, billionaire and longtime tech critic Frank McCourt discussed his pursuit of a better internet where each person retains ownership over their own data, not conglomerates that collect and sell user information for profit.

“Rather than, you know, thinking of data as an abstract, kind of amorphous, unimportant thing, let's start thinking about it as our personhood, everything about us,” McCourt said. “It is you that is being taken from you and exploited. Don't you want to own you? We shouldn't be giving that up just to use the internet.”

The business executive’s mission led him to announce a bid in May to purchase the U.S. portion of TikTok, the social media app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. While other potential buyers might be more intrigued by TikTok’s lucrative algorithm, McCourt’s primary interest lies in the app’s user base of around 170 million Americans, or half the country’s population.

If he’s successful, McCourt said he hopes to restructure TikTok’s underlying programming so that its massive user base controls what personal information they share with the app and how it’s used. He argued that the vast amount of data points collected from internet usage enables social media companies to predict behavior and create addictive products, especially for youth.

In April, Congress and President Joe Biden approved a law that instructs ByteDance to either sell TikTok to an approved buyer within 270 days or face a ban in the United States. The legislation emerged out of national security concerns from lawmakers about the Chinese government’s influence over the app’s content and access to its data.

TikTok sued the federal government, claiming that the law is unconstitutional and infringes on Americans’ First Amendment right to free speech. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has scheduled the trial’s oral arguments to start in September.

Describing the current internet as surveillance-based and predatory, McCourt connected the future of digital data ownership with the fate of U.S. democracy.

“One of the two is going to have to give,” he said. “Either our political system is going to become more autocratic, or the tech has to become more democratic.”

We’ve added new speakers to the stellar lineup of leaders, lawmakers and newsmakers hitting the stage at The Texas Tribune Festival, happening Sept. 5–7 in downtown Austin. Get an up-close look at today’s biggest issues at Texas’ breakout politics and policy event!

OTHER NEWS

30 minutes ago

Fourth UK Conservative Party official reportedly investigated in widening election betting scandal

30 minutes ago

Taylor Swift's economic clout has now come for Europe

30 minutes ago

Katie Ledecky makes history with 800m freestyle victory at US Olympic trials

30 minutes ago

The Biden administration finalized a controversial new retirement rule — here are 3 key things you need to know now

30 minutes ago

Wine wars break out in Norfolk over plans to open more wine bars

30 minutes ago

Meet the ‘double haters’ who could decide the election

30 minutes ago

Animal Feed Recalled as Threat to Humans Issued

30 minutes ago

Travel expert shares seven tips to stop kids from kicking your seat during a flight

30 minutes ago

Rishi Sunak reminds Brits that Keir Starmer fought to 'reverse' Brexit

32 minutes ago

Willie Nelson's team gives new health update after canceling his upcoming concert appearances

34 minutes ago

Coronavirus FAQ: Is the 6-foot rule debunked? Or does distance still protect you?

35 minutes ago

Number of Jordanians who die of heat exhaustion during Hajj reaches 75 — ministry

35 minutes ago

Sunday Headlines: Celtics honor Terrence Clarke during Championship parade

35 minutes ago

Qatar Drops One Spot in Latest FIFA Rankings

35 minutes ago

Deel CEO was told he’d need to replace his entire leadership team for the business to reach unicorn status—now it’s valued at $12 billion and he’s ‘kept 80% of the same team as when it was at $0’

35 minutes ago

Titans' Jack Gibbens named the favorite for LB job going into camp

35 minutes ago

Tory MPs paid £100,000 of public funds to party’s in-house web designers

35 minutes ago

LOOK: Commanders QB Jayden Daniels out with 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk

35 minutes ago

Small parties’ surge offers opportunity and risk for Labour as ‘big two’ vote share poised to fall

35 minutes ago

Murderer who killed six people and two unborn children dies in jail

35 minutes ago

Ukraine updates: Kyiv strikes Russia after Kharkiv attack

40 minutes ago

Dallas' own Sha'Carri Richardson is Paris-bound after winning 100m at U.S. Olympic Trials

41 minutes ago

Funding the foe? Fox Nation explores the chilling truth that America is unwittingly financing China's growth

41 minutes ago

Name-brand residences 'resonate' in Miami, spurring major competition

41 minutes ago

Why Reggie Jackson's powerful remarks on racism still resonate today

41 minutes ago

Tottenham stun Liverpool with move for Euro 2024 defender as Arne Slot fears Erik ten Hag-like error

41 minutes ago

#TheMoment a 2018 yearbook quote predicted a 2024 Oilers win

41 minutes ago

Eyes pinned to Toronto byelection as safe Liberal seat teeters under Trudeau

41 minutes ago

Company develops technology to store excess clean energy as heat for countless applications: 'This allows us to supply entire industries such as breweries or the paper industry'

41 minutes ago

Mario and Luigi: Brothership Opens the Same Door as Origami King

41 minutes ago

Second senior appointment at Knysna Municipality declared unlawful, unconstitutional

41 minutes ago

Netanyahu again claims the US is withholding arms shipments, days after Washington denies it

41 minutes ago

'Chaos' at Manchester Airport as power cut causes widespread flight cancellations

41 minutes ago

Huge gains and 9% yields: why now’s an amazing time to be a stock market investor

41 minutes ago

Andy Murray ruled out of Wimbledon after operation on spinal cyst

41 minutes ago

Video: How Covid has helped fuel craze of night-time walking that sees hikers noisily trudge through town before dawn to watch sunrise in Snowdonia - sparking local fury

41 minutes ago

Formula 1 - Spanish Grand Prix LIVE: Start time, leaderboard and lap-by-lap updates as Lando Norris starts on pole ahead of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton

44 minutes ago

Is Rishi Sunak’s threat to punish young people who evade national service credible?

49 minutes ago

Video: Taylor Swift fans complain about not being able to see the stage during her Wembley show despite paying up to £700 for tickets - while those who paid for restricted view can 'see everything'

49 minutes ago

Haas F1 team's arbitration proceeding with former Russian sponsor Uralkali concludes