The settlement is among the largest privacy-related payouts in history, the result of 21 federal lawsuits mostly filed on behalf of minors, some as young as six years old. They all claimed that TikTok collected personal user data without consent to share with third-parties, some based in China.
A TikTok spokesperson said that the company disagrees with these claims but decided a settlement was in its best interest. “Rather than go through lengthy litigation, we’d like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community.”
Investigators found that TikTok went to “great lengths” to hide its data collection and data sharing by deliberately obfuscating its source code.
Under the settlement, TikTok can no longer record biometric data or track users’ location using GPS. The company says it will stop sending data overseas and won’t collect data on videos in draft before users publish them.
The settlement is waiting for final approval by U.S. District Judge John Lee of the Northern District of Illinois.