Angry TikTok biometric data privacy suit has an angry afterlife
When a U.S. district judge presiding over the biometric data privacy class-action against TikTok allowed 851 class members to flee for individual arbitration, the move greatly irritated the firm’s Chinese parent, ByteDance.
Those opting out of the $92 million settlement (master case 20 C 4699), in which video-sharing app TikTok maintains it neither collected nor compromised the personal data of its subscribers, likely will get bigger payouts than claimants who stick with the class.
Estimates reported by the Cook County Record suggest each class member outside of Illinois will receive $27.19, those within the state will receive $163.13, while plaintiffs’ attorneys will collect over $29 million.
Objections to the attorneys’ compensation were raised and rejected in court.
The list of TikTok doubters is lengthy. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission in June asked Apple and Google to kick TikTok apps from their stores because they leak biometric and other personal data. The company was sued last year under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation.)
Thirteen percent of the people in the class reside in Illinois and charged that TikTok violated that state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, according to coverage by Reuters. (In an aside, the news service notes that only 1.4 percent of the TikTok users in the class filed a claim.)
Even after Judge John Z. Lee in Chicago forced people who wanted to opt out of the class to do most of the paperwork themselves to do so, seemingly thousands of claimants signed on the dotted line.
TikTok’s counsel, the renown Silicon Valley firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, attacked the list seeking to discredit move by saying opt-outs had been improperly solicited.
The Reuters piece is a good tic-toc (journalism slang for a story that shows step by step how something happened and a relevant pun). It reads like the quick narration of courtroom procedures expediting the plot of a paperback novel.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs accused TikTok of “unprofessional attacks,” according to the article.
The attacks nonetheless seem to have worked because only 851 opt-outs ultimately were received. And Wilson Sonsini has not sworn off going through those documents with dental picks.
Privately held ByteDance’s 2021 revenue is estimated at $58 billion.