TikTok Settles Privacy Breach Class Action for $92M

In what some have seen as an unexpected conclusion, the popular social media app TikTok has agreed to pay a $92 million settlement amount to end a privacy class action lawsuit filed against it. The app was accused of collecting private user data and selling it to undisclosed parties in China, all without user permissions. Allegedly, facial recognition scans were among the most controversial forms of data being sold.

The $92 million settlement proposal applies to 21 separate lawsuits that formed a class action against TikTok. All 90-million-odd TikTok users are potential class members, which means that each user would only be paid about $1 for the privacy violation. Although, the final distribution of settlement funds to the class could end up differently, especially if not all TikTok users are counted in the class. Members of the plaintiffs’ counsel have said that the result is not so much about money but more about hedging the data collection abilities of all social media apps going forward and setting a legal precedent to hold them accountable if a privacy breach occurs again.

Other key points of the settlement are that TikTok will no longer:

  • Collect user biometric data
  • Save and share user facial recognition scans
  • Use GPS data to track user locations
  • Mine data from video drafts that are never posted
  • Send U.S. user data to any foreign company

At no point did TikTok admit to any wrongdoing or accept the allegations against it, though. A spokesperson from the company said that it only agreed to settle to close the litigation and allow everyone to move on. The plaintiffs and the investigators they hired argue otherwise, though, and say the company intentionally tried to hide internal data that showed the data collection occurring. Because the case is being settled without litigation, evidence of the secretive data mining will be largely unavailable to the public, so the allegations will remain as just that.

Interestingly, the $92 million TikTok privacy breach settlement comes roughly two years after the social media app ran into trouble with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In early 2019, TikTok paid nearly $6 million in FTC fines after the agency alleged the company was datamining from users who are minors.

For more information about developing and newsworthy consumer class action lawsuits, be sure to visit the blog of Golomb & Honik, P.C. frequently. Our class action attorneys assist and represent clients across the country in a variety of class actions and with a focus on those involving dangerous drugs and hazardously defective products. Contact us online if you would like to know more about our firm.

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