TikTok has surged in popularity in recent years, gaining close to half a billion users. Most of this has been fueled by its popularity with teenagers and young adults. But, the popular video app could be in trouble, as it faces a class-action lawsuit over misuse of data.
The company that runs the app has been accused of transferring the data of its users to Chinese servers. This has put it at the centre of lawmakers scrutiny, with concerns being raised over the way its handling data.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed by a college student in California, TikTok, along with its parent company, ByteDance, which is based in China, has been collecting and holding user information without their consent and transferring it to Chinese servers.
The student, Misty Hong, made claims that TikTok sent the personal data of large numbers of users to these servers, and has been doing so since April. According to the lawyers involved in the case, this data was supposedly used for ad targeting purposes.
Among the information collected was facial scans, phone contacts, social media contacts, browsing history, birthdays, and other information. The student says she discovered the app had created an account without her consent and then took videos she made, but not posted, from her phone and transferred them to servers in China.
The suit alleges, “TikTok clandestinely has vacuumed up and transferred to servers in China vast quantities of private and personally identifiable user data that can be employed to identify, profile and track the location and activities of users in the United States now and in the future.”
“These apps infiltrate users’ devices and extract a remarkably broad array of private and personally-identifiable information that Defendants use to track and profile users for the purpose of, among other things, targeting them with advertisements from which Defendants unjustly profit.”