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TikTok to Pay $92 Million in Class Action Privacy Settlement

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TikTok to Pay $92 Million in Class Action Privacy Settlement

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TikTok recently agreed to pay a $92 million settlement to TikTok users in the United States after a year of litigation over privacy concerns. While the social media giant did not admit to any of the allegations contained in the multidistrict action, the plaintiffs’ legal team is hopeful that the high settlement will discourage TikTok from mishandling its users’ personal data in the future.

TikTok was facing 21 federal lawsuits merged into one multi-district action.

The concern over TikTok’s user privacy policy was extreme enough to bring on 21 individual class actions. The concerns in these lawsuits were similar and numerous enough to justify a broader multi-district action in Illinois. TikTok continues to assert that their disagreement with the allegations in the lawsuit, but released a statement saying that, “...rather than go through lengthy litigation, we’d like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community.” This $93 million settlement, if approved by the judge, will be one of the largest privacy-related settlements in the nation’s history, and it will be doled out to a class of approximately 89 million U.S. TikTok users.

Illinois is the only state that allows consumers to seek monetary compensation for the theft of biometric data.

This was another contributing factor in combining the 21 original lawsuits. Illinois’s Biometric Privacy Act details both the type of data considered “biometric” and “private”, as well as the steps a person can take if they suspect a company or employer has mishandled their biometric data. Not only does the combined lawsuit allege that TikTok analyzes user faces in their published videos, but it also accuses the company of mining unpublished draft videos for this data as well. The data theft victims in this suit include users as young as 6 years old.

The lawsuit accused TikTok of collecting and storing biometric data from their users.

This data was allegedly collected by analyzing the faces of their users to determine identifying information such as age, gender, and ethnicity. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that this and other private information was sent overseas, specifically to servers in China. Other privacy data supposedly collected without user permission includes users’ GPS locations and clipboard data. The settlement would also prohibit TikTok from engaging in these alleged privacy violations without written consent from their users. Despite TikTok’s denial of the allegations in this suit, after a year of litigation and a $92 million settlement, it seems likely that big changes are coming in regard to how TikTok approaches user privacy and biometric data.

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