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Utah accuses TikTok of deceptive customers about security, China connection in new lawsuit

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Utah Governor Spencer Cox welcomes U.S. President Joe Biden earlier than he spoke on the George E. Wahlen Division of Veterans Affairs Medical Middle on August 10, 2023 in Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah.

George Frey | Getty Photographs

Utah is the most recent state to file swimsuit in opposition to TikTok, alleging the social media web site misled its residents about its relationship to its Chinese language guardian firm and deceptively touted its platform as secure.

TikTok has already confronted related lawsuits from Arkansas and Indiana, whereas Montana has chosen to ban the app altogether, a transfer that TikTok and creators have challenged. The motion amongst states concentrating on TikTok stands in distinction to stagnation in Washington, the place proposed laws that might result in a ban of the app has stalled following an early wave of bipartisan momentum. It underscores how states have taken the lead on many tech coverage points given the problem of transferring laws by way of Congress.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox invoked analysis about social media’s impression on adolescents, together with a latest U.S. Surgeon Basic report, in asserting the lawsuit on Tuesday.

“Social media firms have to be held liable for the harms they’re inflicting,” Cox stated in an announcement.

Within the grievance, filed in state court docket, Lawyer Basic Sean Reyes alleges that TikTok violated Utah’s client safety legal guidelines in 3 ways:

  • By deploying and advertising “an addictive product with design options meant to control kids.”
  • By misrepresenting the protection of the app and deceptively claiming it “can successfully keep a secure digital atmosphere for youngsters.”
  • By deceptive customers in regards to the diploma of its relationship with China-based guardian firm ByteDance.

TikTok didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon the swimsuit.

TikTok’s possession by a China-based firm has been on the crux of many authorities officers’ considerations in regards to the firm. That is as a result of Chinese language legislation may compel firms primarily based there handy over inside data if the federal government cites nationwide safety considerations.

The opposite parts of the swimsuit contact on considerations that many individuals have about social media platforms normally, not simply TikTok. Nonetheless, the lawsuit houses in on options like TikTok’s vertical swipe to load new movies, likening it to a slot machine that retains customers coming again for a dopamine rush.

Utah has been notably energetic in in search of to guard its residents from what it sees because the dangerous results of social media. Earlier this yr, Cox signed two new legal guidelines that might implement sweeping new restrictions aiming to guard children on-line. For instance, they’d limit the hours that minors are in a position to entry social media platforms, require age verification to keep up an account and provides dad and mom a strategy to entry their children’ accounts, together with personal messages.

Privateness and LGBTQ+ rights advocates have warned that such restrictions may backfire by requiring extra invasive practices to confirm the age of all customers. Moreover, giving dad and mom broad entry to children’ accounts may put kids in abusive houses in hurt’s manner, opponents of the laws have argued.

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