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Indiana AG files two lawsuits against TikTok claiming security and child safety violations

Posted at 5:22 PM, Dec 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-08 19:24:08-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has filed two separate lawsuits against TikTok this week, according to Attorney General Todd Rokita

The first lawsuit alleges that TikTok is misleading and presented itself as an application that is safe and appropriate for children ages 13-17. It also alleges to only contain “infrequent/mild” sexual content, profanity and drug references, while the lawsuit suggests that the app contains extreme examples of this material.

“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,” Rokita said. “With this pair of lawsuits, we hope to force TikTok to stop its false, deceptive and misleading practices, which violate Indiana law.”

Park Ginder, the superintendent at Southwest Allen County Schools, says he sees students in 1st - 3rd grade who have cell phones.

"I don't think that's healthy; I'd like to see that stop. So from my standpoint, parents need to be involved in what their students are doing with devices and track their individual use there in their home," Ginder said.

The second lawsuit suggests that TikTok contains highly sensitive and personal information about Indiana consumers and has deceived these consumers to believe their information is protected by the Chinese government and Communist Party.

“In multiple ways, TikTok represents a clear and present danger to Hoosiers that is hiding in plain sight in their own pockets,” Rokita said. “At the very least, the company owes consumers the truth about the age-appropriateness of its content and the insecurity of the data it collects on users. We hope these lawsuits force TikTok to come clean and change its ways.”

Rokita is seeking emergency injunctive relief and civil penalties up to "$5,000 per violation" against the company.

"Even though the company has given assurances that there is a firewall and that things are protected, there has been some some discoveries or some at least suspicions to the contrary," Anton Dahbura, the Executive Director at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, told WRTV.

TikTok released the following statement in response to the lawsuits:

“While we don't comment on pending litigation, the safety, privacy and security of our community is our top priority. We build youth well-being into our policies, limit features by age, empower parents with tools and resources, and continue to invest in new ways to enjoy content based on age-appropriateness or family comfort. We are also confident that we're on a path in our negotiations with the U.S. Government to fully satisfy all reasonable U.S. national security concerns, and we have already made significant strides toward implementing those solutions.”

TikTok spokesperson, Brooke Oberwetter.