Skip to main content

TikTok privacy lawsuits: Company agrees to settle one of the largest cases in history

Agreement has been reached on a proposed settlement of no fewer than 21 US federal TikTok privacy lawsuits in what has been described as one of the largest cases of its kind in history.

The lawsuits accused the company of “theft of private and personally identifiable data,” some of it from children as young as six years old. But despite the size of the settlement, you shouldn’t expect much of a payout if you’re one of the 89M US users…

NPR reports that the agreed amount of compensation for the privacy breaches is $92M, working out at a little over one dollar per user before legal costs.

TikTok has agreed to pay $92 million to settle dozens of lawsuits alleging that the popular video-sharing app harvested personal data from users, including information using facial recognition technology, without consent and shared the data with third-parties, some of which were based in China.

The proposed settlement, which lawyers in the case have called among the largest privacy-related payouts in history, applies to 89 million TikTok users in the U.S. whose personal data was allegedly tracked and sold to advertisers in violation of state and federal law […]

According to lawyers representing TikTok users, the app “clandestinely vacuumed up” vast quantities of private and personally identifiable data that could be used to identify and surveil users without permission. Even information from draft videos that were never shared publicly on the app were mined by TikTok for data, the lawyers for the users alleged.

As millions in the U.S. turned to the app for videos of dance challenges, cooking tips and silly skits, TikTok was allegedly sending their information to servers in China, or in other countries where China-based employees could access the data.

Tiktok also shared information about users, without their consent, with Facebook, Google and other companies, the suit claims.

TikTok issued an unconvincing statement that it did not accept the allegations, but had decided to settle anyway.

Rather than go through lengthy litigation, we’d like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community.

The proposed terms – which need to be approved by a judge – also call for the company to change its data-collection practices.

Under the proposed terms of the settlement, TikTok will no longer record a user’s biometric information, including facial characteristics, nor track a user’s location using GPS data. TikTok also committed to stop sending U.S. users data overseas and the app said it would no longer collect data on draft videos before the content is published.

Via Engadget. Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel



Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

Ben Lovejoy's favorite gear