Lawsuit Claims TikTok Sends Children’s Personal Data to China

schoolkids using smartphones
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A new class-action lawsuit alleges that the popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok funnels personal details of children to communist China.

NPR reports that families are suing the popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, alleging that the app shares their children’s data with China. The lawsuit alleges that the app collects information about the children’s facial characteristics, locations, and close contacts which it sends to servers in China.

Dozens of minors, through their parents, are involved in the lawsuit. Twenty separate but similar federal lawsuits were filed over the past year on behalf of TikTok users in California and Illinois, which requires that tech companies receive written consent before collecting data on a user’s identity. These suits have now been merged into one class-action lawsuit.

On Tuesday, a panel of federal judges ruled that the case will be based in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois with Judge John Z. Lee being appointed as the presiding judge. Plaintiffs will be asking Lee to expand the suit into a nationwide class-action lawsuit that could affect tens of millions of American users.

TikTok denies the allegations but the company is in no position to engage in a long legal battle as it faces intense pressure and scrutiny from the Trump administration. Breitbart News previously reported that President Trump expressed concerns about the app and was considering banning it in the United States. “We’re looking at TikTok, we may be banning TikTok, we may be doing some other things, there are a couple of options,” Trump said. “A lot of things are happening so we’ll see what happens. We are looking at a lot of alternatives with respect to TikTok.”

Since then, U.S. tech giant Microsoft announced that it will move forward with plans to purchase the U.S. operations of the popular app as the platform faces the risk of being banned in the U.S. due to national security concerns. President Donald Trump has backed down from his plan to ban the platform, giving Microsoft 45 days to negotiate a purchase.

TikTok CEO Zhang Yiming told employees in China on Tuesday that a forced sale of TikTok to a U.S. buyer is “unreasonable,” but it is still part of a legal process and TikTok has no choice but to abide by the law. “But this is not their goal, or even what they want. Their real objective is to achieve a comprehensive ban,” he wrote.

Read more about the class-action lawsuit at NPR here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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