TikTok is facing growing scrutiny from various U.S. political officials. Amidst an ongoing call from state leaders to ban the app from state government devices, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has announced that the state has filed two lawsuits against the social media platform.
Rokita announced the lawsuits in a press release, calling the app “a clear and present danger.” The first of the two lawsuits—which were both filed yesterday—is based on the merit that TikTok encourages underage users to use the app under the pretense that there is only mild suggestive content involving sexual situations, drugs, and profanity. “In order to lure these children onto its platform, TikTok makes a variety of misleading representations and omissions to claim a 12+ rating on the Apple App Store and a ‘T’ for ‘Teen’ rating in the Google Play Store and the Microsoft Store,” the lawsuit alleges.
The second lawsuit is more critical of TikTok’s tendency to scrape sensitive user data, which is stored by parent company ByteDance. The lawsuit alleges that since this company is based in China, it is forced to cooperate with the Chinese government, and indicates that the Chinese government could have access to all user data gleaned from the app.
“TikTok’s statements and omissions paint a picture for Indiana consumers that there is minimal risk of the Chinese Government and/or Communist Party, which controls the government, accessing and exploiting their data,” the suit argues. “These statements are false, deceptive, and misleading. “
“The TikTok app is a malicious and menacing threat unleashed on unsuspecting Indiana consumers by a Chinese company that knows full well the harms it inflicts on users,” Attorney General Rokita said in a press release. “With this pair of lawsuits, we hope to force TikTok to stop its false, deceptive and misleading practices, which violate Indiana law.”
These lawsuits come as Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced yesterday an order to ban TikTok on all state-owned devices. Abbott wrote in a letter to Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker of the Texas House of Representative Dade Phelan, and state agency leaders:
Effective immediately, I have ordered every state agency in Texas to ban TikTok on any stateissued devices. In addition, I have given the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas Department of Information Resources until January 15, 2023, to develop a model plan that state agencies can deploy with respect to the use of TikTok on personal devices. Each state agency will then have until February 15, 2023, to implement its own policy governing the use of TikTok on personal devices, subject to approval by the DPS Cyber Security division.
Indiana’s lawsuits and Texas’ ban of the app pile on to a growing call from other state leaders to ban the social media platform. South Dakota’s Governor first called for the app to be banned from state-issued devices late last month. Other states have followed South Dakota’s lead, like South Carolina and Maryland, whose respective governors announced a ban of the app on government devices earlier this week.