Indiana files 1st state lawsuit against TikTok, but what does this mean?

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Friday, December 9, 2022
Indiana sues TikTok, citing safety and security concerns
The lawsuits mark the most serious action taken yet by a state against TikTok, amid increasing attention and concern about the social media platform

Indiana is suing the social media app TikTok. The attorney general is accusing the company of making false claims about the safety of user data, and age-appropriate content.

A security expert explains what this all means.

As the app has quickly become a national phenomenon for millions of users, some lawmakers are raising concerns over its privacy and data security, especially when it comes to children.

This, as Indiana announces it's suing the social media platform, in the first state lawsuit against the social media giant.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita filed two lawsuits Wednesday, claiming the Chinese-owned company exposes minors to inappropriate content and makes user data accessible to China.

He alleges that "TikTok has lured children onto the platform through a variety of misleading representations," and that everything from people's interests to their facial features are potentially accessible to the Chinese government.

"There's, first of all, a privacy concern, access to the data that we have on our phone,' said Paul Timm, a security expert and vice president at Facility Engineering Associates.

Timm said because TikTok is based in China, unlike other social media companies, the U.S. government has limited authority to investigate or regulate the platform.

Two-thirds of American teens are reportedly on the app, according to a recent Pew Research study.

"We are just hoping that everything goes well in a place where we know data mining is threatening our privacy, and that's a problem," Timm said.

These lawsuits are the latest move, bringing TikTok under scrutiny.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banning all state agency employees from using the app on any government-issued devices, following similar restrictions in Maryland and South Dakota.

In a statement, a TikTok spokesperson says: "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..."

They also said that they are "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."

Meanwhile, experts encourage parents to learn more about the platform and its privacy settings, and to come up with a plan with your child about what they should and shouldn't be doing online.