Federal judge calls Indiana attorney general’s TikTok lawsuit largely ‘political stance’

INDIANAPOLIS — The fate of the Indiana attorney general’s lawsuit against social media company TikTok is uncertain after a federal judge criticized much of the case as “political posturing.”

While US District Judge Holly Brady ruled against TikTok’s request to transfer the case to federal court, that decision leaves the lawsuit filed by Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita in the hands of a county judge who last month he failed against Rokita on two key points. The state attorney general claims the Chinese-owned video-sharing platform misleads users about its level of inappropriate content and the security of consumer information. A county judge has already said the attorney general erred in classifying the TikTok download as a consumer transaction because no money is being exchanged, and that Indiana lacks legal standing in the case because both TikTok and Apple, the company where people download the app, are based in California.

The most recent blow came on May 23, when Brady wrote in a decision that “more than 90% of the (lawsuit) was devoted to irrelevant positions.”

“When one examines the political positions and finds that legal claim, the inescapable conclusion is that the claim goes up and down on particular issues of state law,” said Brady, a Fort Wayne, Indiana-based judge nominated by the then-president. Donald Trump. he wrote. “The federal intrigue brought by Indiana may interest its target audience, one beyond the court wall, but it is irrelevant to the determination of this case.”

The Indiana lawsuit, which was filed in December, makes arguments similar to those of many state and federal lawmakers and government officials who have said they are concerned that the Chinese government could harvest data from American TikTok users and use the platform to push information. erroneous in favor of Beijing or messages to the public. TikTok, owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, has said it has never been asked to hand over its data to the Chinese government and has denied Indiana’s claims of inappropriate content.

The state attorney general’s office did not immediately comment Monday on Brady’s decision or the future of the lawsuit. Lawyers for TikTok and ByteDance’s media office also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Brady’s decision keeps the lawsuit in state courts, where a judge last month denied Rokita’s request for a preliminary injunction barring TikTok from declaring on online app stores that it has “none” or “infrequent” references. /moderate” to drugs, sexual content or other inappropriate content. for children up to 12 years old.

Judge Craig Bobay of the Allen County Superior Court in Fort Wayne also ruled that downloading the free TikTok app did not amount to a consumer transaction and said the attorney general’s office was unlikely to win at trial.

The attorney general’s office has not said whether it will appeal Bobay’s decision.