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Privacy & Data Security Law

TikTok Suits Over Children’s Privacy Combined in Illinois Court

Aug. 5, 2020, 5:01 PM

TikTok faces 10 lawsuits alleging it collected data on children’s faces without parental approval in the Northern District of Illinois, after a judicial panel consolidated the cases there.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation said in its order Tuesday it also may add an additional nine related lawsuits to the consumer class actions that claim violations of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act.

The suits may complicate Microsoft Corp.'s effort to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations from Chinese parent company ByteDance Ltd. President Donald Trump said Aug. 3 TikTok must shut down in the U.S. Sept. 15 unless there’s a deal to sell it by then to a U.S. company. U.S. officials fear the Chinese government could force ByteDance to turn over data on American citizens.

TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Combining the suits under Judge John Z. Lee in one venue will be convenient for the parties and prevent potentially inconsistent rulings by different courts, the panel said.

The panel picked the Northern District from among four suggested venues because four of the 10 suits, and three of the possible add-ons, are already there “and have been proceeding in an organized fashion,” according to the order.

U.S. lawmakers and consumer groups have called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether TikTok is failing to protect children’s privacy in violation of a 2019 agreement with the agency. TikTok’s predecessor Musical.ly paid $5.7 million to resolve the FTC’s claims of violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

The case is In re: TikTok Inc. Consumer Privacy Litigation, J.P.M.L., No. 2948 2948, 8/4/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at avittorio@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com; Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com;

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