The popular short-form video app TikTok simply can’t catch a break! Besides dealing with its botched acquisition now stuck in limbo, the social media platform will soon shell out a hefty sum of money!
According to recent media reports, Tiktok has agreed to pay a whopping $92 million to settle multiple privacy lawsuits which allege that the short-form video app collected and shared user data without consent.
The lawyers involved in the case are calling the proposed settlement one of the largest in the history of privacy-related payouts. It will apply to 89 million U.S-based Tiktok users whose data the company, in violation of U.S state and federal laws, allegedly sold off to advertisers, some of those are claimed to be from China.
TikTok’s upcoming $92 million settlement comes after 21 federal lawsuits that were filed mostly on behalf of minors who claimed the company partook in ‘theft of private and personally identifiable TikTok user data.’
The lawyers of the plaintiffs claimed that TikTok even managed to harvest the draft videos that were never published. According to the settlement, some of the children were as young as six.
The lawsuits claimed that the TikTok app, unknown to its users, included surveillance software within it which has been developed in China. And, with the help of the same, the company managed to ‘clandestinely vacuum up’ and transfer a vast amount of private and personal user data to servers in China.
It continued by alleging that the harvested data is capable of identifying, profiling and tracking both the physical ad digital location of United States-based users both now and in the future.
Lastly, it added that defendants’ (TikTok) conduct exposed critical user data of US users in order to help the Chinese government fulfil two of their crucial state objectives: world dominance in the field of artificial intelligence and wide-scale population surveillance and control.
Now, under the terms of the proposed settlement, Tiktok will need to stop collecting user data and sending it overseas. The company will also need to case the collection of biometric information which requires facial recognition data along with GPS data.
However, as mentioned earlier, the acquisition has not been completed and is currently stuck in limbo as the new Biden administration is reviewing the national security risks the Chinese technology possess. Thus, TikTok’s future in the U.S continues to tread in rocky waters.
All in all, this is not the first time TikTok has agreed to pay a fine for privacy infringement. In 2019, the company agreed to pay FTC a whopping $5.7 million fine in order to settle a case that, quite similar to the recent lawsuits, accused Tiktok of collecting personal data of its minor users.