The Utah Division of Consumer Protection (UDCP) is suing TikTok over allegations that the video service’s addictive behavior harms children and for misleading users about its alleged lack of ties to ByteDance, its parent company in China.
The lawsuit alleges that TikTok violates the Utah Consumer Sales Act (UCSPA) by addicting and profiting from children, making misleading statements about its safety and the fairness of its policies, and claiming that the app is their Based in the US and not controlled by China’s ByteDance.
TikTok is facing similar issues across the US. Last year, Indiana made similar allegations in a lawsuit against TikTok. A Maryland school district sued TikTok and other tech giants in June for contributing to a “mental health crisis” among students. In May, the state of Montana banned TikTok from operating on its territory, after which the company appealed the ban in court and demanded that it be lifted.
In a press release about the lawsuit, Utah Governor Spencer Cox blamed the company “Misleads parents into believing app is safe for children”. The officer noted that the service “has an addictive and harmful effect on children” with features that encourage young users to endlessly watch video content to make more money from advertising. Earlier this year, Utah also passed a law requiring children to use social media only with parental consent.
In its lawsuit, the UDCP is seeking a jury trial and is asking a judge “temporary or permanent ban” TikTok violates the UCSPA law and requires the company to pay UDCP’s legal costs for the lawsuit, “well over $300,000”and also collect $300,000 in civil penalties.