Today, the law firms of Carlson Lynch LLP, FeganScott LLC, and Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, P.C. moved for preliminary approval of a $92 million proposed class action settlement on behalf of users of the TikTok app.
The settlement, if approved by the court, would resolve claims that the social media company wrongfully collected its users’ biometric information and private data, and disclosed that information to third parties. In addition to creating a monetary fund for TikTok users, the settlement requires that TikTok initiate a new privacy compliance training program and take other steps to protect its users’ privacy going forward.
One of the most popular apps of all time, TikTok is known for its 60-second, video-sharing social network. While TikTok has denied any privacy violations, the class action lawsuit contended that the app collects and discloses personal data in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), the Video Privacy Protection Act, and other consumer and privacy protection laws.
Illinois is currently the only state in the country with a statute that allows consumers to seek monetary damages if their biometric information is wrongfully taken. Because of this important, Illinois-specific claim, the settlement proposes that each Illinois class member receive an additional five shares of the $92 million settlement fund compared to other class members nationwide.
The settlement was presented for approval to the Honorable John Z. Lee of the Northern District of Illinois by three attorneys that Judge Lee appointed to lead the case in September 2020 – Chicago-based Beth Fegan of FeganScott LLC and Katrina Carroll of Carlson Lynch LLP, and Los Angeles-based Ekwan Rhow of Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, P.C. These co-lead counsel oversee the multidistrict litigation of more than 20 consolidated cases against TikTok and its affiliates.
Co-lead counsel Katrina Carroll emphasized that the settlement’s benefits go beyond the millions of dollars that will be distributed to TikTok users nationwide: “This settlement is important for many reasons. First, it provides compensation for TikTok users, but equally as important, it ensures TikTok will respect its users’ privacy going forward. Social media seems so innocuous, but troubling data collection, storage, and disclosure can happen behind the scenes. This settlement sets out to prevent that.”
“It’s clear that Illinois is on the cutting edge of privacy law, and this settlement enforces those crucial protections,” said co-lead counsel Beth Fegan, of FeganScott. “Biometric information is among the most sensitive of private information because it’s unique and it’s permanent. Users’ data follows them everywhere, and potentially for a lifetime. It’s critical that their privacy and identity is protected by stalwart governance to guard against underhanded attempts at theft.”
“This is one of the largest settlements ever achieved in a consumer BIPA case, and one of the largest privacy class action settlements,” noted co-lead counsel Ekwan 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.”