Tech

USA: TikTok accepts large settlement payment for data breach

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The Chinese company Bytedance, which is behind the short video app TikTok, agrees to a proposed settlement and thereby undertakes to pay the representatives of a class action lawsuit in a US court and their attorneys a total of up to 92 million US dollars. This could allow the company to settle the class action lawsuit alleging illegal collection and use of personal information from underage TikTok users.

The class action lawsuit brings together more than 20 similar lawsuits against Bytedance, which were often brought on behalf of minors by their parents and accuse the company of violating several data protection laws – some state laws, but also federal laws, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Video Privacy and Protection Act, how ArcTechnica writes. Some of the individual lawsuits are also directed against TikTok’s predecessor app, Musical.ly.

In the lawsuits, the allegations are mostly made that Bytedance illegally collects very personal user data (especially from children) using automated processes such as algorithms, AI and facial recognition and processes it for advertising and profit. These include the identity and location of a user, biometric information from audio, image and video data, contents of the clipboard, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and social media accounts as well as other confidential, non-public data. In addition, some of the complaints raised concerns that this data could have been passed on to Chinese government agencies.

In the settlement, Bytedance commits itself not only to the cash payment, but also to training its employees for more data protection and to proceed more transparently when collecting data. The U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois, where the lawsuit is being heard, has yet to approve the settlement.

The former US administration under President Trump had classified TikTok as a risk for Americans and banned the app as well as the WeChat chat service; Courts suspended the bans shortly afterwards. The new US President Biden has interrupted the process and wants to examine the bans.


(tiw)

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