ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns the short video app TikTok, agreed to the settlement after more than a year of litigation.

The ByteDance logo is seen in this illustration. File Photo: November 27, 2019.
The ByteDance logo is seen in this illustration. File Photo: November 27, 2019. (Reuters)

TikTok's Chinese parent company ByteDance has agreed to pay $92 million in a settlement to US users who are part of a class-action lawsuit alleging that the video-sharing app failed to get their consent to collect data in violation of a strict Illinois privacy law.

The federal lawsuit alleged that TikTok broke the Illinois biometric privacy law, which allows suits against companies that harvest consumer data without consent, including via facial and fingerprint scanning. 

Illinois is the only state with a law that allows people to seek monetary damages for such unauthorised data collection.

The settlement was reached after "an expert-led inside look at TikTok's source code" and extensive mediation efforts, according to the motion seeking approval of the settlement.

“While we disagree with the assertions, rather than go through lengthy litigation, we’d like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community,” TikTok said in an emailed statement.

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Use of biometric data

Facebook agreed to a $550 million settlement under the same law last February. 

The TikTok settlement must still be approved by a federal judge.

Privacy advocates have praised the law as the nation’s strongest form of protection in the commercial use of such data, and it has survived ongoing efforts by the tech industry and other businesses to weaken it.

Illinois is one of three states that have laws governing the use of biometric data. 

But the other two, Texas and Washington, don’t permit individual lawsuits, instead delegating enforcement to their attorneys general.

Separately, in Washington the Federal Trade Commission and US Justice Department are looking into allegations that TikTok failed to live up to a 2019 agreement aimed at protecting children's privacy.

READ MORE: No deal yet for TikTok and US as deadline looms

Source: TRTWorld and agencies