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TikTok may owe you money from its $92 million data privacy settlement

TikTok users who used the app prior to October 1 in the United States are eligible to receive part of the $92 million of TikTok's privacy settlement. ...
An iPhone displaying the TikTok logo. In the background, silhouettes dance around a TikTok logo.
TikTok users in the United States may be eligible for part of a $92 million settlement.

  • US residents who used TikTok prior to October may be eligible for part of a $92 million settlement.
  • The settlement follows a class-action data privacy lawsuit filed in Illinois.
  • Eligible users must submit a claim before March 1, 2022 to possibly receive payment.

If you were a TikTok user prior to October 1 and are a United States resident, you may be eligible to receive part of a $92 million payout as part of a class action settlement. 

TikTok notified users on Monday via an in-app notification that they may be eligible and directed them to visit a link to a website about a Data Privacy Settlement payment.

The settlement follows a class-action lawsuit alleging that TikTok had collected personal data from users and shared it with third parties without users' consent. TikTok denied the allegations in the lawsuit but agreed to pay $92 million to settle. 

Here's what you need to know about the settlement, including how to submit a claim to receive a payout.

The decision applies to roughly 89 million users

The settlement, which applies to approximately 89 million TikTok users in the United States, is the result of 21 federal lawsuits that were filed primarily on behalf of minors, NPR reported in February. Some of those minors were as young as 6 years old.

In court documents filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and published by NPR, plaintiffs alleged that TikTok violated state and federal law by taking and transmitting "private legally protected data." The lawsuit also alleges that TikTok "extracts a broad array of private data" that the company uses to "track and profile TikTok users" for ad targeting. In an amended class action complaint, which was published by NPR, lawyers alleged that TikTok also collected information from users' unpublished draft videos. 

The lawsuit also specifically alleges that TikTok violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, claiming that the company "maintains a competitive advantage over other social media apps and profits from its use of improperly obtained data, all while failing to comply with the minimum requirements for handling users' biometric data established by BIPA."

"While we disagree with the assertions, we are pleased to have reached a settlement agreement that allows us to move forward and continue building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community," a TikTok spokesperson told Insider. 

As part of the settlement agreement, unless explicitly disclosed in its privacy policy, TikTok agreed to not use its app to collect or store biometric information on users and not collect geolocation data. The company also agreed to not use the app to transmit or store US users' data outside of the country. 

TikTok also agreed to delete all "pre-uploaded user-generated content" — drafts of posts that aren't uploaded — that it previously collected and not to collect such data in the future. 

How to submit a claim to receive part of the settlement payout

To receive any money as part of the settlement, eligible users must submit a claim by March 1, 2022, and those eligible can choose if they want to receive payments via Mastercard, PayPal, or Venmo.

Users also have the option to exclude themselves from the settlement by filling out an exclusion form and postmarking it by January 31, 2022. If you do so, you will receive no benefits from the settlement but retain the right to sue for the legal issues within the class action lawsuit, per the settlement notice.

Those eligible may also object to the settlement by writing a letter to the court, which must be postmarked by January 31, 2022.  

How much can I receive from the settlement?

While the full settlement is $92 million, the amount that users receive will vary depending on how many people submit a claim. As NPR reported in February, the settlement applies to 89 million TikTok users in the United States. 

The settlement addresses two different classes: the nationwide class, which includes United States residents who used TikTok prior to October 1, and the Illinois subclass, which encapsulates Illinois residents who used TikTok to create videos prior to October 1. Parents are allowed to submit claims on behalf of their minor children who used the app.  

The nationwide class is eligible for one share of the divided settlement payment, while those in the Illinois subclass are eligible for six shares. The settlement also covers attorney's fees, which can go up to a third of the payment.  

NBC News reported that if every eligible person submits a claim, those in the nationwide class would receive up to $0.96, while those in the Illinois subclass would receive up to $5.75. Per the settlement agreement, the individual payout will vary depending on how many users submit a valid claim — if fewer people do, the individual payout could be more. 

The settlement is still pending final approval at a hearing scheduled for May 18 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

Read more stories from Insider's Digital Culture desk.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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