TikTok Will Pay $92M to Settle Lawsuit Over Personal Data 'Theft'

A class-action lawsuit alleges the social network collected biometric and personal data to share with third parties.
TikTok Will Pay $92M to Settle Lawsuit Over Personal Data 'Theft'
Image credit: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images via PC Mag

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Reporter at PCMag
2 min read
This story originally appeared on PCMag

TikTok has agreed to pay $92 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging the social network collected users' biometric information and personal data without consent and shared it with third parties.

The proposed settlement applies to 89 million TikTok members in the US whose personal data was allegedly tracked and sold to advertisers in violation of California and Illinois state and federal laws, NPR reported.

Related: 7 Easy Ways to Use TikTok to Make Money

Because Illinois is the only US territory with a statute allowing consumers to seek monetary damages if their biometric information is wrongfully taken, individual suits were merged into one multi-district action in the Northern District of Illinois, where it awaits final clearance by Judge John Lee. If approved by the court, this deal not only creates a monetary fund for users, but also requires TikTok to implement a new privacy compliance training program, among other steps.

"This settlement is important for many reasons," Katrina Carroll, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. "First, it provides compensation for TikTok users, but equally as important, it ensures TikTok will respect its users' privacy going forward. Social media seems so innocuous, but troubling data collection, storage, and disclosure can happen behind the scenes," she continued. "This settlement sets out to prevent that."

TikTok unsurprisingly disagrees with the assertions, but decided settling the case was its best option. "Rather than go through lengthy litigation, we'd like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community," a company spokesperson told PCMag in an emailed statement.

Twenty-one federal lawsuits were filed against the firm, mostly on behalf of minors (some as young as six years old), claiming the social media platform engaged in the "theft of private and personally identifiable TikTok user data," NPR revealed.

"Biometric information is among the most sensitive of private information because it's unique and it's permanent. Users' data follows them everywhere, and potentially for a lifetime," according to co-lead counsel Beth Fegan. "It's critical that their privacy and identity is protected by stalwart governance to guard against underhanded attempts at theft."

Once approved, class members will receive information about how to get their share of the settlement.

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