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ByteDance Agrees to $92 Million Settlement over Privacy Charges

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois published a document on February 25 stating that TikTok’s parent company, Beijing based ByteDance, has agreed to an out-of-court settlement with the application’s U.S. users over a privacy infringement lawsuit and will make a US$92 million settlement payment.

In 2020, 21 separate class-action complaints were filed against the company on behalf of young users in states including California and Illinois.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The plaintiffs’ attorneys, who represented users as young as 8 years old, argued TikTok surreptitiously collected biometric data to sharpen the app’s targeted advertising and content recommendations” “The plaintiffs’ attorneys also alleged TikTok stores user data in China potentially exposing it to government surveillance.”

On Thursday, TikTok said, “While we disagree with the assertions, rather than go through lengthy litigation, we’d like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community.”

In the United States, each state has its own regulations on privacy protection. According to the Biometric Privacy Law of Illinois, collecting user’s biometric data without consent may constitute a violation. Last year, Facebook also reached a $650 million settlement under the statute.

TikTok has more than 100 million users in the United States. TikTok’s Attorney estimate that the process for approving the settlement could take months.

According to Reuters, separately in Washington, the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Justice Department are looking into allegations that TikTok failed to live up to a 2019 agreement aimed at protecting children’s privacy.

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 26, 2021
Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2021