Several families are suing TikTok, alleging that the platform collects their underage kids’ information, NPR reports. The lawsuit claims that the app collects personal data, including location and facial characteristics, to send that information to China.
According to NPR, twenty similar lawsuits have been filed over the past year on behalf of users in California and Illinois. The lawsuits allege that collected data reveals TikTok users’ location, mental and physical health, religious and political views, and sexual orientation.
Now, the numerous lawsuits are being merged into one. The plaintiffs’ lawyers are looking to expand the suit into a nationwide class-action lawsuit. If expanded, the lawsuit would potentially affect millions of American users.
NPR reports that TikTok is trying to have the privacy lawsuit dismissed. If the lawsuit follows through, it could cost the company millions in losses.
What’s Happening With TikTok?
These parents aren’t the first to claim that TikTok is stealing user data to send to China. The Trump administration considers TikTok a national security threat because its parent company, ByteDance, is based in China. Trump has now demanded that TikTok be sold to a US company by September 15 or face a ban in the US.
Trump’s 2020 campaign recently pushed ads that encouraged a TikTok ban, accusing the app of “spying” on Americans. The ads specifically cited TikTok’s access to iPhones’ Clipboard feature, where TikTok reportedly had access to the information that users were copy and pasting, like passwords.
Mysk, who CNN describes as a group of researchers, first discovered the practice. After their research was used for Trump ads, they later clarified that many apps access Clipboard, not just TikTok. TikTok also clarified that they only used Clipboard to solve the app’s ongoing comment spam issue. They also have repeatedly stated that they don’t have ties to the Chinese government.
“TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the US,” a TikTok spokesperson said, according to CNN. “We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”