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Judge dismisses Indiana state’s lawsuit against TikTok over child safety concerns

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Posted at 3:57 PM, Nov 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-30 15:57:39-05

(CNN) — A judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the state of Indiana against TikTok accusing the company of making false claims about the safety of user data and age-appropriate content.

Judge Jennifer DeGroote of Allen County Superior Court in Fort Wayne, Indiana, said the court “lacks personal jurisdiction” over TikTok and that downloading an app at no cost does not constitute a “consumer transaction” under the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, according to court documents. The ruling was first reported by the Associated Press.

The lawsuit, which was filed in December 2022 originally as two lawsuits and later consolidated, was the first serious action taken by a state against the social media platform. Similar lawsuits now remain active in other states including Arkansas and Utah.

“The TikTok app is a malicious and menacing threat unleashed on unsuspecting Indiana consumers by a Chinese company that knows full well the harms it inflicts on users,” Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a statement at the time. “With this pair of lawsuits, we hope to force TikTok to stop its false, deceptive, and misleading practices, which violate Indiana law.”

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit alleged TikTok attracts young people to its platform under the pretense that it’s safe yet still exposes them to inappropriate content including drug and alcohol use, nudity and profanity. It also claimed the company collects sensitive data and personal information about consumers in Indiana and that the company, owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, “has deceived those consumers to believe that this information is protected from the Chinese government and Communist Party.”

Last month, Indiana joined dozens of statesin a lawsuit against Instagram-parent Meta over concerns that its features are addictive and can harm young users’ mental health.

The heightened attention around these issues follows the 2021 release of tens of thousands of internal company documents by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen that revealed the company knew its products could have negative impacts on young people’s mental health.

Indiana was also one of the first states that ordered TikTok to be banned on government-issued devices, citing the threat of “gaining access to critical U.S. information and infrastructure.”