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Data collection practices become target of class-action lawsuits

In the 21st century, a new type of class-action lawsuit has become much more common: consumers suing large tech companies over their data collection practices. Consumers want to protect their private information. These lawsuits show how that has become more difficult in recent years.

Class-action lawsuits over data collection practices

For example, in February, TikTok agreed to a huge class-action payout over improper data collection. The video app company will pay $92 million for failing to notify users of gathering personal data and then sharing that information with third parties. Reportedly, TikTok even used facial recognition technology to gain user information.

The class-action settlement comes as a result of several lawsuits against TikTok, many representing young children. The app has become extremely popular with teens and younger children because it allows them to record fun dance videos and silly video compilations. However, in the lawsuits, TikTok was accused of sharing information about its young users with without their permission. As a result of the settlement, TikTok has agreed to:

  • cease tracking users’ locations through GPS data
  • stop sharing data overseas, including in China

In January, Facebook agreed to pay out $650 million in a class-action settlement over its popular photo tagging feature. The lawsuit alleged that people tagged in photos on Facebook had their privacy violated without their consent. The social media giant had to update its user privacy policy in 2019 to cover the tagging feature.

Now, Google is coming under fire for collecting personal data from consumers who use the search engine’s incognito feature. The incognito feature has become popular because users believed Google didn’t track their personal data while using it. However, a recently filed $5 billion class-action suit claims Google did gather personal information of those using the incognito feature without their permission.

More problems with data collection practices likely

More than likely, high-profile tech companies will continue to face class-action lawsuits over data collection practices. This issue has become more hotly debated as consumers push back against having their private information shared without their knowledge. Consumers feel tech companies sometimes use deceptive practices in their data collection and ultimately gain an unfair advantage from the information they collect.