Hyundai and Kia lose lawsuit after Tik-Tok trend exposes security vulnerabilities

Hyundai and Kia are going to cough up more than $200 million to owners of about 9 million vehicles after a Tik-Tok trend led to a class action lawsuit.

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In 2022, Tik-Tok users posted videos showing how easy it was to hotwire the vehicles in question as they lacked engine immobilisers, a crucial anti-theft device. The videos let to a spate of vehicle thefts across the US.

These devices were not included in certain 2011-2021 model year Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Thieves targeted these cars because they were easy to steal using a common USB charging cord or a similar metal object to start the engine. The spike in the theft of these models was partially attributed to a TikTok trend from the "Kia Boyz", which followed people breaking into Kia and Hyundai models only using a screwdriver and a USB cord.

$145 million of the settlement will go toward out-of-pocket losses experienced by owners, including vehicles lost or stolen, vehicles that incurred damages, loss of personal property and insurance-related expenses, said attorneys.

"The owners of these cars have experienced enough upset, and we worked to achieve a settlement that covers many types of losses — from those who were lucky enough to have never had their theft-prone car stolen, to those whose stolen cars were totalled completely owing to Hyundai and Kia's negligence," Steve Berman, managing partner at Hagens Berman, said in a statement.

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