A class-action lawsuit has been filed against TikTok for allegedly stealing kids’ data and sending it to China.
More than 70 TikTok users who are minors are alleging through their parents that the social media app collects such information as facial biometric data, locations, contacts, and more, and then sends it to China, according to NPR.
NPR reports the merged lawsuit combines 20 separate lawsuits that have been filed against TikTok within the past year, specifically from underage users in California and Illinois. In Illinois, a law called the Biometric Information Privacy Act requires companies to provide written consent before collecting facial-recognition data.
The lawsuit alleges that the app gobbles up personal data as soon as the app is downloaded, even when it is not being used, which violates users’ consent.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers will reportedly ask the judge to expand the complaint to a nationwide class-action lawsuit, which would affect millions of American TikTok users.
Digital Trends reached out to TikTok to comment on the lawsuit. We will update this story when we hear back.
The lawsuit comes as TikTok has been widely criticized for its privacy issues and ties to China, with President Donald Trump even calling for the app to be banned in the U.S. Trump recently demanded that the app’s Chinese owners sell its U.S. operations — or be shut down.
India banned the app in June, citing TikTok’s Chinese ownership.
Aside from concerns over its Chinese origins, TikTok was fined $5.7 million last year for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA), a children’s privacy law. The Federal Trade Commission said that TikTok failed to get parental consent for users under the age of 13.
In November, the U.S. government also launched a national security investigation into TikTok over the company’s acquisition of the app Musical.ly.
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