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TikTok users all over the US may be qualified for a portion of TikTok’s settlement in a class action lawsuit, according to a notification that the video app pushed out yesterday. This is because the company has allegedly collected personal data from its users without prior notice or consent, including users who are minors. You can file to get part of the settlement online.
According to NewsWeek, the case can be confirmed as genuine. Officially, the case is known as TikTok, Inc., Consumer Privacy Litigation, and it’s been filed for handling to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The payout for the app will be $92 million, covering the plaintiff’s legal fees, administrative costs, and the claims that users make by filling out the required form.
But why Illinois? And what personal data has TikTok been collecting? USA Today states that “Illinois is the only state with a law that allows people to seek monetary damages for such unauthorized data collection.” And the app has been collecting phone numbers, locations, biometric data, and more without sufficient warnings or without children or parents even being informed.
And Dexerto notes that this means that TikTok has “violated federal and state law by collecting and using, without sufficient notice and consent, Plaintiffs’ personal data in connection with their use of the TikTok — Make Your Day video- sharing application.” Users in Illinois are also eligible for up to 6x the settlement amount, granted they use the app as video creators.
The claim also mentions Musical.ly and ByteDance, both of which are associated with TikTok. And there is a very broad definition of who might qualify, according to HITC. Essentially, anyone in the US who used either the TikTok or Musical.ly apps before October 1st of this year, as well as Illinois users who used the app before September 30th, can file a claim.
According to the company, “Privacy and safety are top priorities for TikTok and we have robust policies, processes, and technologies in place to help protect all users and our teenage users in particular. We believe the claims lack merit and intend to vigorously defend the action.”
Regardless, TikTok has settled to avoid going to trial. CBS 46 calms worried parents by explaining that though minors cannot file a claim, parents can file on their behalf. Additionally, as reported by Funzalo, clients can get their claim payment through PayPal, Venmo, a pre-loaded card, or a check sent by mail.
However, there are some caveats and deadlines that must be followed for proper filing. Some users have complained that the site TikTok is using isn’t correctly processing claims. Additionally, those who want to file but don’t want a chunk of the settlement payout must do so by January 1st of 2022, and those who want to write to the court about their dissatisfaction have until January 31st. TikTok’s settlement filing deadline will be March 1st of next year, and Top Class Actions reports that the final approval hearing for the case will be May 18, 2022. Further, if all TikTok users file a claim, the payout per user would be closer to 70 cents than anything more substantial. Some users are complaining that the use of personal data is only worth as much as a “McDonald’s soda.”
It should be noted that this is not the first time TikTok has been sued on the premise of taking personal data without consent. In the UK and EU, according to a video by Pierre-Henri Landriau on YouTube, TikTok was sued for billions of dollars while the US is only suing the app for millions. Similarly, there were issues with minors and their inability to consent to the giving away of their personal data.