TikTok sued by Indiana AG for child safety, security issues

Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott and a number of other GOP leaders are taking "aggressive action" against the social media giant.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer
tiktok app icon on phone
Image: BigTunaOnline / shutterstock

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita this week filed two separate lawsuits against TikTok, claiming the China-based social media giant has deceived and harmed Indiana residents. Rotika is just one of several Republican leaders in recent weeks to take action against TikTok. 

Indiana's first lawsuit alleges TikTok has marketed its video-sharing platform as safe for teens, even though its algorithm "serves up abundant content" depicting drugs, sexual content and other inappropriate themes. The second lawsuit asserts that TikTok has deceived consumers by suggesting their personal information is protected from the Chinese government and Communist Party.  

"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," Rokita said in a statement. "With this pair of lawsuits, we hope to force TikTok to stop its false, deceptive and misleading practices, which violate Indiana law."

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Rotika wants emergency injunctive relief against the company and is seeking monetary penalties for every time TikTok violated Indiana's Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.

Meanwhile, Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday ordered all Texas state agencies to ban the use of TikTok on any government-issued devices. The governor also ordered state agencies to come up with plans to govern the use of TikTok on state employees' personal devices. 

Abbott wrote in a letter to state agency leaders that there are "growing threats posed by TikTok" to the states' sensitive information. "TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users' devices – including when, where, and how they conduct Internet activity – and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government," he wrote. 

Abbott's move follows similar actions by Republicans in other states. A day earlier, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan released an emergency directive barring the state's executive branch from using certain, China-based products and vendors, including TikTok, Huawei and others. Last month, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed an executive order banning TikTok for state government agencies, employees and contractors using state devices. 

Also this week, a handful of Wisconsin Republicans sent a letter to the governor, urging him to ban TikTok. 

The social media app has become a target for Republicans concerned with federal policy making, who argue the app should be banned because the "United States is locked in a new Cold War with the Chinese Communist Party."

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