TikTok agrees $92 million settlement in facial recognition lawsuit

TikTok has agreed to pay out $92 million (£66 million) to settle a lawsuit that asserts the app misused artificial intelligence to track and store users’ data.

TikTok agrees $92 million settlement in facial recognition lawsuit

TikTok has agreed to settle a $92 million class-action lawsuit that accused the Chinese company of ‘theft’ of personal data. 

The US-based class-action lawsuit alleged that TikTok breached laws in addition to having sent user data to China. The lawsuit claimed that the app used software to recognise facial features in videos made by users and algorithms to identify discerning features and factors including age, ethnicity and gender. 

According to the lawsuit, the facial-recognition data collected by the app was used in order to track users to facilitate ad-targeting.

Instead of contesting the lawsuit, TikTok has agreed to pay out a settlement of $92 million (£66 million) to the group challenge. In a statement about the settlement, TikTok declared: ‘While we disagree with the assertions, rather than go through lengthy litigation, we’d like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community’.

The lawsuit was heard in the US state of Illinois, which has stringent legislation surrounding the use of biometrics by companies. If TikTok’s proposed settlement is approved by a federal judge, the money would be divided up to be distributed to US-based TikTok users.

TikTok has also agreed to clarify its privacy policy and will state whether or not the biometric information or GPS data of users will be collected. Additionally, the privacy policy will be amended to inform users if their data is transmitted outside of the US.

This is not unfamiliar territory as TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, previously settled another lawsuit in 2019 that focused on the alleged collection and exposure of the data and personal information of minors. This previous lawsuit was reportedly settled for $1.1 million one day after it was filed.

TikTok remains one of the most popular content-creation apps today, having been downloaded globally over 2 billion times with nearly 700 million monthly active users as of July 2020.

Header Image Credit: Solen Feyissa


Ali Muzaffar

Ali Muzaffar Kickstart Team

Ali is a Trainee Journalist with Voice. He graduated from the University of Leeds in English Literature and maintains a strong interest in reading new books whenever possible. A self-professed film nut, Ali enjoys movies from a wide range of genres, although he can be counted on to gravitate towards thrillers or dramas!

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  • Hector Macduff

    On 3 March 2021, 12:58 Hector Macduff Kickstart Team commented:

    Well there's some more scary big tech news I can't unlearn. Great article but I'm still not reading the terms and conditions but the 66 million pound fine will have taught them their lesson right, right?

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