A group of plaintiffs have reached a preliminary settlement in a class action lawsuit against TikTok. The lawsuit was initially filed in May of 2020, and alleged that the social media app violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act when it collected and shared the personal and biometric information of its users without first obtaining the proper consent.
The case that is currently before Judge John Z. Lee is a consolidated suit that includes more than 20 separate cases filed against TikTok. The plaintiffs are now asking Judge Lee to approve their settlement, under which TikTok would be expected to set up a $92 million fund to pay out members of the affected class. TikTok would also be required to implement a new privacy training program and take other steps to ensure compliance with data protection laws.
The lawyers representing the plaintiffs are Chicago’s Beth Fegan and Katrina Carroll, and Ekwan Rhow out of Los Angeles. They work for FeganScott LLC, Carlson Lynch LLP, and Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, P.C., respectively.
“This is one of the largest settlements ever achieved in a consumer BIPA case, and one of the largest privacy class action settlements,” said Rhow. “It presents an excellent recovery for the class, and it serves as a reminder to corporations that privacy matters, and they will be held accountable for violating consumers’ rights.”
“Illinois is on the cutting edge of privacy law, and this settlement enforces those crucial protections,” added Fegan. “Biometric information is among the most sensitive of private information. It’s critical that privacy and identity is protected by stalwart governance to guard against underhanded attempts at theft.”
While the $92 million figure is eye-catching, it is relatively minor when measured against Facebook’s $650 million BIPA settlement. That number was reached after a judge rejected an earlier $550 million settlement, arguing that the smaller figure was not enough to compensate the sheer number of people in the class, based on the penalties laid out in BIPA law.
The TikTok settlement would set aside more funds for Illinois residents than it would for people in other states. The video sharing app has faced legal trouble beyond the lawsuit, most notably when the federal government threatened to ban TikTok after privacy experts warned that the government of China might have access to the personal information gathered through the app.
February 26, 2021 – by Eric Weiss