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Lawsuits & Litigation

Indiana Attorney General Files Privacy Lawsuit Against TikTok

— December 7, 2022

The politically charged lawsuit claims, in part, that TikTok allows the Chinese government and Communist Party access to Indiana consumer data.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has filed two separate lawsuits against TikTok, accusing the social media company of making false claims about user security and showing age-inappropriate content to young consumers.

In a statement, Rokita made a point of emphasizing TikTok’s foreign ownership, suggesting that the company may be intentionally hurting American youth.

“The TikTok app is a malicious and menacing threat unleashed on unsuspecting Indiana consumers by a Chinese company that knows full well the harms it inflicts on users,” Rokita said. “With this pair of lawsuits, we hope to force TikTok to stop its false, deceptive, and misleading practices, which violate Indiana law.”

The first lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, alleges that TikTok “lures” children onto the platform by falsely claiming that its content is appropriate for users aged between 13 and 17.

The complaint notes that teenagers who use TikTok spend an average of 99 minutes per day on the application, during which time they are “exposed” to content featuring nudity, drug use, and alcohol consumption.

The second lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, repeats a longstanding claim that TikTok retains “reams” of information about its users, much of which could be made available to the Chinese government upon request.

TikTok open on a phone. Image via Flickr/user:Solen Feyissa. (CCA-BY-2.0).

Rokita writes that TikTok “has deceived those consumers to believe that this information is protected from the Chinese government and Communist Party.”

Rokita observed that TikTok’s privacy policy for European consumers was recently updated to “clearly state that it permits individuals outside of Europe, including China, to access European user data.”

TikTok has made no such update to “its U.S. privacy policy, which applies to Indiana consumers, explicitly informing them that their data is accessed by individuals and entities in China.”

According to CNN, the lawsuits are Indiana’s first major action against TikTok.

In recent years, TikTok has faced increasing scrutiny from U.S. regulators and law enforcement agencies, which view the application as a potential threat.

On Tuesday, for instance, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered state agencies to prohibit the installation and use of TikTok on government-issued devices, citing the threat of “gaining access to critical U.S. information and infrastructure.”

South Dakota, Maryland, and several other states have similarly restricted how TikTok may be used by government employees on government-issued smartphones.

A spokesperson for the company did not respond to CNN’s request for comment but instead reiterated that “the safety, privacy and security of our community is our top priority.”

“We build youth well-being into our policies, limit features by age, empower parents with tools and resources, and continue to invest in new ways to enjoy content based on age-appropriateness or family comfort,” TikTok said. “We are also confident that we’re on a path in our negotiations with the U.S. Government to fully satisfy all reasonable U.S. national security concerns, and we have already made significant strides toward implementing those solutions.”


Indiana Attorney General files lawsuits against TikTok

Indiana sues TikTok, claiming it exposes children to harmful content

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