On Wednesday, the state attorney general of Indiana filed one of the first state lawsuits against the popular video service TikTok, accusing the company of misleading users about China’s access to their data and putting children in danger by allowing them to view content deemed inappropriate for them.
TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, allegedly broke state consumer protection laws by failing to disclose that the Chinese government has the ability to tap sensitive customer information.
This allegation was made by the attorney general, Todd Rokita. TikTok is owned by ByteDance.
His office stated in a separate complaint that TikTok deceived young users and their parents with its age rating of 12-plus in Apple’s and Google’s app stores, when in fact inappropriate sexual and substance-related content can be easily found and pushed by the company to children using the app.
Breaking News: Indiana filed lawsuits accusing TikTok of exposing minors to mature content and deceiving users about China’s access to their data. https://t.co/BZxVunCfgs
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 7, 2022
This complaint was filed in response to allegations that TikTok deceived young users and their parents with its age rating of 12-plus in Apple’s and Google’s app stores.
Officials in the United States have been working for more than two years to try to get the enormously popular app either banned in the country or forced to modify its own structure in order to lessen its ties to China.
The app has been incorporated into the effort that the Biden administration is doing to improve the technology supply chains in the United States and to impede China’s rise as a worldwide leader in technological innovation and export.
The state of Indiana is seeking fines of up to $5,000 per infraction and has requested a state Superior Court to order TikTok to stop making false and misleading claims about the way it handles data and to stop presenting itself as an app that is suitable for adolescents in their early teenage years.
The office of the attorney general has stated that TikTok is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
TikTok has chosen not to comment on the cases that have been filed in Indiana; nevertheless, a representative for the company, Brooke Oberwetter, has stated that “the safety, privacy, and security of our community is our top priority.”
She went on to say that “we embed youth well-being into our rules,” limit features based on age, empower parents with tools and resources, and continue to invest in new ways to enjoy content depending on whether or not it is age-appropriate or comfortable for families.