Indiana is suing TikTok for providing adult content to children and its connection to Chinese | technology

Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok in the US when he was president. Now, several states with GOP governors have ramped up pressure on the popular social network owned by Chinese company ByteDance with a series of decisions, including two lawsuits brought by Indiana accusing the social network of providing content to children and teens. It is only suitable for adults and violates data protection regulations by allowing the Chinese government to access user information.

“TikTok is a malicious and dangerous threat unleashed on unsuspecting Indiana consumers by a Chinese company that knows full well the harm it does to users,” Indiana Attorney General Todd Roketa said. He added, “With this pair of lawsuits, we hope to force TikTok to cease its false, fraudulent, and deceptive practices, which violate Indiana state law.”

The first lawsuit alleges that TikTok has lured children onto the platform through a series of misleading claims that the app only contains “rare/moderate” sexual content, profanity, or drug references, when in fact the app is full of it. An extreme example of this type of material, according to the attorney general. TikTok’s algorithm promotes a variety of inappropriate content to users between the ages of 13 and 17 across the United States. TikTok’s algorithm delivers abundant content on alcohol, tobacco, and drugs; sexual content, nudity, and suggestive themes; And serious profanity. TikTok promotes this content regardless of the user’s age, meaning it is available to registered users under the age of 13,” according to the lawsuit. A key part of TikTok’s business model, the attorney general says, is to present the app as safe and appropriate for children ages 13 and up. and 17. The lawsuit cites reports linking social network use to problems for teens, including depression and eating disorders.

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The second lawsuit alleges that TikTok has large amounts of highly sensitive data and personal information about Indiana consumers and has misled them into believing that this information is protected from the Chinese government and the Communist Party. TikTok and its algorithm are owned by ByteDance Ltd., a Chinese company that is subject to Chinese law, including laws that require covert cooperation with Chinese intelligence activities. The Chinese government and the Communist Party have shown interest in the kind of data TikTok collects about its users, which it may use to spy on those users. And to blackmail and coerce them, or to further develop China’s artificial intelligence capabilities, or for any number of purposes serving China’s national security and economic interests, at the expense of consumers in Indiana.

Both lawsuits ask the court to find that the social network’s actions are “unfair, offensive, and misleading to Indiana consumers,” that TikTok be forced to cease its actions, and that TikTok will impose fines.

In parallel with Indiana’s lawsuit, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, banned the use of TikTok on state-owned devices and its agencies. It follows in the footsteps of the federal government, where the Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security have already issued similar bans. In a letter to the heads of various agencies in Texas, Abbott notes that “the threat of the Chinese Communist Party infiltrating the United States continues to grow on multiple fronts” and stresses that “under China’s National Intelligence Act of 2017, all companies are obligated to assist China in intelligence work.” , including data sharing.

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“In view of these threats, effective immediately, each Texas government agency will prohibit its officials and employees from downloading or using TikTok on any of their government-issued devices. This ban on TikTok extends to all cell phones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers, and other devices.” State-provided internet-enabled devices,” the Texas governor ordered. Calculated exceptions will be allowed, such as the use of TikTok for police investigations. Abbott is also asking for a plan to avoid vulnerabilities due to the use of TikTok on the private devices of public servants.

In what appears to be a coordinated push, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan this week also issued an emergency cybersecurity directive to ban the use of certain Chinese and Russian products and platforms of the state government’s executive branch, including TikTok. These entities pose an unacceptable level of cybersecurity risk to the country, and may engage in activities such as cyberespionage, surveillance of government entities, and inappropriate collection of sensitive personal information.

So did South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster. “Protecting our nation’s critical cyber infrastructure from external and domestic threats is essential to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our citizens and businesses,” he said in a letter to DOS Executive Director Marcia Adams. He added, “Federal law enforcement and national security officials have warned that TikTok poses a clear and present danger to its users, and a growing bipartisan coalition in Congress is pressing to ban access to TikTok in the United States.”

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem led the way last month with a similar measure approved by executive order. “South Dakota will not engage in intelligence gathering operations for nations that hate us,” he said in a statement. “The Chinese Communist Party uses the information it collects on TikTok to manipulate the American people, and they collect data from devices that access the platform.”

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