TikTok has been sued by the US state of Indiana, alleging deception of its users about China’s access to their data.
The short-form video app, which has more than a billion users worldwide, also exposes children to inappropriate content related to sex and drugs, lawsuits filed by Attorney General Todd Tokita’s office say.
Mr. Tokita, a Republican, described Tick tock as a “malicious and menacing threat unleashed upon unsuspecting Indiana consumers by a Chinese company that knows full well the harm it inflicts on users.”
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which is based in Beijing.
A spokesperson for the social media platform offered no comment on the lawsuits, but the company was on the defensive this week as longstanding concerns between several US states came to a head.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered all state agencies to ban TikTok on government-issued devices, arguing the Chinese government posed a “serious threat” through the app.
“TikTok collects massive amounts of data from its users’ devices, including when, where and how they conduct internet activity, and offers this collection of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government,” it said.
Its counterparts in Maryland, South Dakota and South Carolina have made the same move.
TikTok promises to “fully address” US concerns
A TikTok spokesperson said the bans were “largely fueled by misinformation about our company.”
They said the company took user safety seriously, with the age requirement to create an account at 13, which was recently raised to 18 for those who want to broadcast live.
“We embed youth welfare into our policies, limit features based on age, give parents tools and resources, and continue to invest in new ways to enjoy content based on age-appropriateness or family comfort” they stated.
“We are also confident that we are on track in our negotiations with the US government to fully address all reasonable US national security concerns, and have already made great strides toward implementing those solutions.”
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Could TikTok be banned?
TikTok has found itself repeatedly in the crosshairs of US politicians since the former president Donald Trump tried to impose a absolute ban on downloading the app.
While Joe Biden he withdrew his predecessor’s order, called for a government review of foreign-owned apps, which remains ongoing more than a year later.
Last month, FBI Director Chris Wray said TikTok’s US operations raised national security concerns.
He warned that the Chinese government could exploit the app to influence users or control their devices.
Analysts believe there’s a reasonable chance TikTok will be banned in the US next year, reports CNBC.
Paul Gallant, political analyst at Cowen, said: “We continue to believe that TikTok will survive in the US.
“But we think it’s a very close call now and we stand by our 40% chance of a ban in 2023.”
While there has been relatively little talk in the UK about the TikTok ban, the app is under ever-increasing scrutiny as its popularity soars.
In August, parliament closed its official account lest the data be passed on to the Chinese government.
The following month, the Information Commissioner’s Office warned TikTok it could face a £27m fine for a possible breach of data protection law not protecting the privacy of children.
And earlier this week, ministers were warned that human traffickers they were using TikTok to advertise perilous Channel crossingswhile the government tries to crack down on the practice.