A Rundown of the TikTok Consumer Protection Class Action

The popular video sharing app TikTok, has agreed to pay $92 million to settle lawsuits alleging the app unlawfully harvested data from its 89 million users in the US. This high profile class action lawsuit comes among a slew of complaints made against large tech companies for their misuse of user data. Facebook Inc., another tech giant, faced a similar lawsuit and agreed to settle for $650 million.

Key concerns in the case against TikTok include its ties to China and the fact that a large portion of its user base are children under the age of 14. The personal data in question includes information from facial recognition software that was collected without user consent. The company and its Chinese parent ByteDance are also accused of infiltrating users’ devices and extracting a broad array of data, as well as sharing users’ viewing history with third parties like Facebook and Google for baseline inclinations regarding ad preferences, garnering the company around an extra $8.9M per year as approximated from an ad sales model that was applied for Facebook’s user data selling scandal.

It should come as no surprise then, that TikTok’s business practices are under intense scrutiny. While the Biden administration has eased off the prospect of banning the app entirely, a noted suggestion from former president Donald Trump, the company has agreed as part of the settlement to cease its collection of biometric facial data and user GPS location and to cease its transfer of data from US users to foreign countries.

There are two classes of claimants who are eligible for settlement compensation: a nationwide class and a subclass for those users of TikTok who reside in Illinois. In 2008, Illinois passed the Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA. This groundbreaking legislation mandates protection of data from retina/iris scans, fingerprints, voice prints, and facial geometry; and requires firms to obtain consent before collecting this data, with harsh penalties if they don’t. Because of this law, claimants in the Illinois class are entitled to a settlement claim 6 times the size of those from other states. Be on the lookout for similar legislation on a federal level as these privacy class action cases grow in frequency.

The potential payout for class members depends on the percentage eligible persons who file a claim. If we look at the Facebook privacy class action case, where an abnormally high 22% of eligible claimants filed, the settlement would pay national class members $29.10 and Illinois class members $174.57. If the claim rate is more typical, at around 2%, then national class members will receive $47.29 and Illinois class members will receive $287.50.

Although $92 million is a substantial amount, there are some class members who believe this settlement is insufficient for various reasons. One objector is unhappy with the plan of notifying users of their claim eligibility. They contend that it is well within the app’s capability to notify its entire user base by sending them a message within the app, but TikTok hasn’t agreed to do so. On top of this, other objectors are eyeing greater claims as the settlement encompasses more than facial data, including mandatory compliance analyses and information transmission.

You may wonder if you or a family member qualifies for a portion of this settlement. CCC is here to help you figure that out. Keep up to date with top-notch insight regarding big class action news by following our blog or signing up for our newsletter. Our team will make every effort to notify you of cases you may qualify for and are here for every step of the claim filing process.

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