TikTok’s in hot water again o

About Fatu
By Fatu Ogwuche

Top of mind: Happy Sunday!

I’m sending this week’s issue in sweltering heat. It’s 27˚ in London! 🥵

I know my readers in Africa will scoff at this with their 30˚+ weather. I should be used to this because I grew up in Abuja. But it’s scorching, I tell ya!

Send cool thoughts.

3 big things:

  • TikTok’s data shenanigans
  • South Africa’s streaming battle
  • Prime Video’s new launch

TikTok’s in hot water again o

The short: More countries are giving TikTok the side eye. 

Mo money same problems: TikTok got the attention of Former US President Donald Trump in 2020 when he threatened to ban the app over national security concerns and its ties to China. But before Trump could follow through on his threat, Joe Biden won the election and quashed those plans. 

However, India kicked the short-form video giant out of the country for the same reasons. Now TikTok is alive and well in the US – with additional cybersecurity oversight by the US government, while quickly becoming one of the most downloaded apps in the country and a lucrative venture for its users.

China sees everything: Turns out that China accesses user data on TikTok regularly. According to a Buzzfeed report, leaked audio recordings of hundreds of internal TikTok meetings confirm that the company sends user data to Chinese servers – from a recording where an employee allegedly stated – “everything is seen in China.” Since this leak, US lawmakers have ramped up pressure on the Biden administration to take action against TikTok. 

Growing problems: Over in the pacific ocean, New Zealand’s parliament warned lawmakers not to use TikTok on official devices because it poses a security risk. The UK jumped on that train by shutting down the parliament’s TikTok account six days after it was created.

TikTok pushes back: TikTok disclosed that it transferred its US user data to Oracle’s cloud platform – assuring the government that it now houses 100% of US user traffic in the country.

Company says: 

We know that just saying ‘trust us’ is not enough… That’s why long ago we made an important commitment to transparency, particularly when it comes to how we moderate and recommend content.

Final thoughts: Scrutiny over data housed by tech companies is not new. But TikTok’s dealings raise a new level of security concerns, which has gotten a lot of countries invested in its day-to-day.

The company will need to do more to assure countries that user data is not making its way to Chinese servers – if not – there’d be more bans in the future.

South Africa targets streaming services

The short: South African officials push for tax and regulation of streaming services.

Control streaming: South Africa’s ruling party ANC is shopping a regulatory structure that allows local broadcasters to compete on equal terms with streaming giants like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.

Comms Minister speaks her mind: South Africa’s Minister of Communications, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni – after stressing she was not speaking on behalf of her office – stated the country should not have foreign competitors operating in its market without paying taxes and adhering to local content requirements. She’d like to see South Africa adopt similar regulations of streaming services practised by the EU and the US.

A level-playing field: The ANC’s position matches MultiChoice’s complaints about the absence of regulation over multinational players like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and Britbox. MultiChoice’s CEO, Calvo Mawela, has long advocated that global streaming companies should invest in local content and pay tax in South Africa.

Everyone gets regulated – Oprah style: MultiChoice and the ANC agree that South Africa should regulate streaming services. However, the ruling party isn’t just coming for streaming platforms. It’s also targeting MultiChoice’s DStv, particularly SuperSport.

So, everyone should look under their seats to find gift-wrapped regulations in the coming months. Final thoughts: I’m in full support of the tax. South Africa should get a bite of the cake being baked in its yard. As for regulation, that’s always a trickier topic. Hopefully, other African countries will get inspired by South Africa’s bold moves and tax streaming services appropriately.

Amazon Prime Video launches in Nigeria

The short: Amazon Prime Video launches in Nigeria.

Big moves: Amazon Prime Video deepened its commitment to Nigeria by announcing the launch of the localised version of its streaming service and the release of its first Amazon Originals.

The company says Nigerian users can now access over 20,000 original TV shows and movies. They can also subscribe for ₦2,300 ($4) monthly after a seven-day trial.

Expansions: Amazon’s launch in one of the continent’s largest marketplaces is a big move.

Just like it did in Southeast Asia a few weeks ago, the digital titan is expanding its subscriber base into more regions. Since its launch in 2016, Amazon Prime Video’s global expansion into more than 200 countries has seriously threatened Netflix’s growth in Africa.

Streaming wars: Amazon’s streaming competitors – Netflix, Disney+, Canal+, and Showmax are competing for the projected 15 million video-on-demand users by 2026 in Africa.

In Nigeria, the streaming service has made strategic steps recently by striking deals with household names like Anthill Studios, Inkblot Productions, and Evoke Studios. As a result, the expectation is that Prime Video’s 600,000 users in Africa may grow to 1.5 million over the next four years. 

Final thoughts: Africa is still fresh soil for streaming platforms, and it’s undoubtedly a huge and valuable market. We’re watching the streaming war unfold in glorious 4k HDR. 

May the best player win!

That’s it for the week. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this week’s issue. Please respond to this email or find me on Twitter @fatuogwuche 🙂 

Ps – do us a solid by sharing the newsletter with your network of tech enthusiasts. Invite them to join the party 🙂

See you next Sunday! 🎉

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