Federal judge calls Indiana attorney general's TikTok lawsuit largely 'political posturing'

The lawsuit, which was filed in October, alleges that TikTok collected "vast swaths" of data from its users without their consent.The fate of an Indiana lawsuit against the social media company TikTok is uncertain after a federal judge said she needed more information before she could rule on the c

Federal judge calls Indiana attorney general's TikTok lawsuit largely 'political posturing'

FILE – Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita addresses a crowd at a watch party in Schererville (Ind.) for Jennifer-Ruth Green. She is the Republican candidate running for Indiana’s 1st Congressional District. The event took place on November 8, 2022. After a federal court judge branded much of the Indiana Attorney General's lawsuit against social media app TikTok as 'political pretension', the fate of the Indiana Attorney General's suit is still uncertain.

Darron Cummings/AP

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (AP) - The fate of Indiana Attorney General's lawsuit against social media company TikTok remains uncertain after a Federal Judge branded much of the case 'political pretension'

The U.S. District Court Holly Brady denied TikTok’s request to transfer the case to federal courts. This decision leaves the lawsuit filed by Republican Attorney-General Todd Rokita to a county court judge, who ruled last month against Rokita's position on two important points. State Attorney General Todd Rokita claims that the Chinese-owned video sharing platform is misleading users about its inappropriate content, and the security of consumers' information. A county judge said that the attorney general was wrong to classify TikTok downloads as consumer transactions because there is no exchange of money. He also stated that Indiana has no standing because TikTok, the company from which the app is downloaded, and Apple are both based in California.

Brady's decision of May 23 stated that "more than 90% (of the lawsuit) was devoted irrelevant posturing."

Brady, an Indiana-based Fort Wayne judge appointed by Donald Trump in the past, stated that "the claim is based on state law." The federal intrigue injected by Indiana might be interesting to its intended audience, but it's irrelevant for the determination of the case.

Indiana's lawsuit was filed in December and makes arguments that are similar to those of many state and federal legislators and government officials, who have expressed concern about the Chinese government harvesting U.S. users data from TikTok, and using the platform to spread misinformation and messages pro-Beijing to the public. TikTok is owned by ByteDance a Chinese tech giant. It has denied Indiana's allegations about inappropriate content.

The office of the state attorney general did not comment immediately on Brady's ruling or the future of the lawsuit. The attorneys for TikTok and ByteDance Media Office did not immediately respond to requests for comments either.

Brady's ruling keeps the case in state courts. A judge denied Rokita last month's request for an injunction that would have prevented TikTok from declaring in online app stores, "none" or "infrequent/mild" references to drugs, sexual content, or other inappropriate material for children as young 12 years old.

Judge Craig Bobay, of Allen County Superior Court Fort Wayne, also ruled the free TikTok app does not constitute a consumer transaction. He said that the Attorney General's Office was unlikely to prevail at trial.

The Attorney General's Office has not said if it will appeal Bobay’s decision.