TikTok Privacy Suits Consolidated Into MDL

According to a Tuesday transfer order issued by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, a mounting number of privacy infringement cases against TikTok and its Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, will be consolidated in the Northern District of Illinois before Judge John Z. Lee.

TikTok, the popular mobile app at issue, enables users to create and share short length video clips. The cases accuse the defendants of impermissible “scan[], capture, retention, and dissemination of the facial geometry and other biometric information of users of the app,” according to the panel’s order. In late July, incensed parents filed a putative class action complaint on behalf of their minor children who were TikTok users. They made similar allegations, contending that the defendants’ practices violate the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.

The panel determined that common fact issues pervade the filings. It explained that “[c]entralization will eliminate duplicative discovery and the possibility of inconsistent rulings on class certification and other pretrial matters, as well as conserve judicial and party resources.”

In selecting the Northern District of Illinois as transferee district, the panel reasoned that four cases already filed in that district are “proceeding in an organized fashion,” meaning that “the actions have been consolidated, interim lead plaintiffs’ counsel has been appointed, and a consolidated complaint has been filed.” It noted that although the defendants are headquartered in California, “they support[ed] selection of the Northern District of Illinois,” along with several plaintiffs.

The assigned judge, John Z. Lee, is already presiding over the related actions in the district. Judge Lee “is an experienced jurist,” the panel wrote, concluding that the panel members were “confident that he will steer this litigation on a prudent course.”

The case is filed under MDL No. 2948.