On November 25, 2022, Austin Recht (an individual acting on behalf of a class of similarly situated people) filed a class action suit against TikTok in the Central District of California for secretly gathering details and content about TikTok users without their consent. The suit also named Chinese conglomerates, Beijing Douyin Information Service Co. Ltd, Bytedance Inc., and Douyin Ltd. as defendants.
TikTok Inc. is a social media platform in which users create and watch short-form videos. Videos shared on TikTok feature almost any topic imaginable, which makes it the perfect platform to engage all types of audiences and personalize the viewing experience for each user. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese internet technology company. For some time now, ByteDance and TikTok have been the subject of investigation by the United States government for TikTok’s invasion of privacy of its users.
The action that was filed alleges that TikTok, through the use of its in-app browser, tracks users’ activities and sells that data to third parties. It is further alleged that the data of billions of TikTok users is the “world’s most valuable resource.” The complaint further states that TikTok monitors users’ keystrokes in order to record a user’s every move when they visit a website through TikTok.
This is not the first time that TikTok has been accused of illegally obtaining and using data of its users. In August 2020, TikTok faced a class action lawsuit that alleged they misused users’ biometric data. In July 2022, TikTok settled that case for $92 million.
Three related cases were also filed against Defendants in December 2022. Recht argued that each of these four cases is “related” to each other and, as such, they should be “consolidated.” He subsequently filed a Motion for Consolidation. In December 2022, the parties stipulated to “stay” the case pending a resolution of the Motion to Consolidate and Plaintiffs’ motion to vacate the United States Judicial Panel on Multi-district Litigation’s order to transfer the action.
Recht is represented by Roland Tellis, Sterling Cluff, David Fernandes and Shannon Royster of Baron & Budd PC and Don Bivens of Don Bivens PLLC.
TikTok Inc. and Bytedance Inc. are represented by Anthony J Weibell, Victor H. Jih, Samantha A Machock, Thomas Robert Wakefield and Kelly Hope Yin of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
The case is Austin Recht v. TikTok Inc. et al., case number 2:22-cv-08613, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is a boutique entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The firm has extensive experience handling cases involving tort law, including invasion of privacy, having provided top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.
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