TikTok users may be eligible for a portion of a $92 million payout from the company’s class action lawsuit. The settlement follows allegations of data privacy violations from 21 separate lawsuits which were filed on behalf of minors. The accusations claimed that TikTok, Music.aly and their parent company Bytedance used personal data “without sufficient notice or consent.”
Documents filed in the U.S. District Court of Illinois alleged that TikTok gathered privated data including biometric data and content for ad targeting purposes. The suit also claims that the app uses artificial intelligence to “recognize facial features in users’ videos” and “analyzes faces to determine the user’s age, race/ethnicity, and gender.” The suit says that TikTok utilizes this private and illegally obtained information for profit.
Additionally, the suit alleges violations of several statutory, common law, and constitutional claims, including the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). It claims that TikTok “unlawfully transmitted members’ personal and private viewing histories to third parties like Google and Facebook.”
Although Bytedance denied the allegations, the company has agreed to the settlement. Under the agreement, TikTok will no longer record users’ facial features, track locations using GPS, collect information from users’ drafts, and reveal user data to third parties.
“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,” TikTok said in a statement.
Ironically the settlement agreement comes a month after TikTok appeared in court after concerns for teenage user safety arose. The Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security conducted the hearing, questioning the companies about various contentious topics, including biometric data gathering. Michael Beckerman, vice president and head of public policy at TikTok, prevaricated around questions regarding why TikTok needed to collect biometric data.
Who is Eligible for TikTok Lawsuit?
All US residents who used the app prior to September 20, 2021 are eligible to file a claim. Illinois residents who used the app before the same date may be eligible for six times the compensation. This is because Illinois is one of the three states with laws regarding biometric data and the only one that allows suits on violations.
However, with 80 million US TikTok users, each person will likely receive less than a dollar. Following attorney fees, if everyone eligible files a claim, NBC predicts about 96 cents per person. Illinois residents will likely receive up to $5.75
In order to file a claim, visit TikTok’s data privacy settlement page. The deadline to file a claim is March 1, 2022. Payments will be given electronically (unless you specify otherwise) if the Court approves the settlement. Parents can file a claim on behalf of their children.