TikTok has agreed to pay $92m to settle multiple privacy lawsuits alleging the social network took and shared user data without consent, according to reports.
The proposed settlement applies to 89 million US TikTok users whose data the firm is alleged to have sold to advertisers in violation of state and federal laws. Some of these third parties are said to be China-based businesses.
According to NPR, the settlement comes on the back of 21 federal lawsuits filed mostly on behalf of children which claim the Chinese-owned company engaged in the “theft of private and personally identifiable TikTok user data.”
Lawyers for the plaintiffs claimed that even draft videos that were never published were harvested by the social media giant. User information using facial recognition technology was also reportedly taken and shared.
Some of the children involved in the lawsuit were as young as six, according to the settlement.
“What is more, unknown to its users, included in the TikTok app is surveillance software developed in China. The TikTok app has clandestinely vacuumed up and transferred to servers in China (and to other servers accessible from within China) vast quantities of private and personally identifiable user data and content that could be employed to identify, profile and track the physical and digital location and activities of United States users now and in the future,” it continued.
“Users are further at risk because defendants’ conduct exposes TikTok user data to access by the Chinese government to assist that government in meeting two of its crucial and intertwined state objectives: (a) world dominance in artificial intelligence and (b) population surveillance and control.”
Under the terms of the settlement, TikTok would have to stop sending user data overseas and cease collecting biometric infomation including facial recognition data, as well as GPS data.
Last year, Donald Trump attempted to ban the app in the US and then force a sale to Oracle. The Biden administration is currently reviewing the national security risks posed by all Chinese technology, while the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is conducting a national security review of TikTok.
TikTik agreed to pay the FTC a record $5.7m fine in 2019 to settle a case in which it was accused of illegally collecting the personal data of children who used it.
Infosecurity has contacted TikTok for comment.
Source: Infosecurity Magazine