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Iowa attorney general files latest court action against TikTok

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(The Center Square) – Iowa’s attorney general filed a motion for a temporary injunction to bump TikTok’s app store age rating to 17+ in an ongoing lawsuit against the company.

Attorney General Brenna Bird sued TikTok in January, saying the social media app has been dishonest about children’s access to explicit videos on the app.

The temporary injunction would require TikTok to change its app store age rating to 17+ while the lawsuit continues. It would also prevent the app from saying in its community guidelines that TikTok does not allow the promotion of alcohol, tobacco, or drug use, among other things.

“A temporary injunction is warranted because the State is likely to prove that TikTok’s App Store age-rating representations and statements in the Community Guidelines about the promotion of alcohol, tobacco, or drug use are unlawful deception or material omissions (or both) under the Consumer Fraud Act,” the motion states.

Bird says the 12+ app store rating for TikTok deceives parents and believes the app makes misleading statements about its parental controls.

“It’s past time for TikTok to be honest with parents,” said Bird. “As a mom and prosecutor, I am deeply disturbed by TikTok’s lying to parents and recommending explicit videos to kids, including videos packed with sexual content and self-harm. That’s why I’m taking action to make TikTok raise its App Store age rating to ‘17+.’ I will do everything in my power to stop TikTok’s deception and keep kids safe online.”

TikTok CEO Shou Chew told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January that the app is “vigilant” about enforcing its 13 and up age policy.

“I’m proud to say that TikTok was among the first to empower parents to supervise their teens on our app with our Family Pairing tools – which include setting screen time limits and filtering out content from their teen’s feed, amongst others,” said Chew. “We made these choices after consulting with doctors and safety experts who understand the unique stages of teenage development, to ensure that we have the appropriate safeguards to prevent harm and minimize risk.”

Iowa’s lawsuit comes amid other legal troubles brewing for TikTok as the U.S. House passed a bill last week that could potentially ban TikTok in the United States.

H.R. 7521, also known as the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, calls TikTok “a significant threat to national security” that is “controlled by a foreign adversary.”

If passed, ByteDance, which owns TikTok, would be required to divest the app within 180 days of enactment.

After receiving approval in the House by a 352-65 vote, the bill is now in the Senate, where it was most recently referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

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