TikTok will collect biometric data from its US users

TikTok will collect biometric data from its US users

A new section of the app's privacy policy mentions the ability to collect users' biometric data, but the content is still vague and it is unclear how consent will be requested

(photo: Pixabay) One new section in TikTok's US policy provides permission for the Chinese application to collect identifiers and biometric data from content uploaded by its users. These new data include facial and voice prints. TikTok, as TechCrunch reports, has not disclosed what purpose it will need to store this information, but has assured that consent will be required when collection begins.

Details on biometric data collection have been introduced in the section just added, “Image and Audio Information”, which can be found under “Information We Collect Automatically” in the policy. This is the part of TikTok's privacy policy that lists the many types of user data that the app already collects. The existing section concerns the information collected from the images and audio of the uploaded content, such as the shape of objects, scenarios, types of audio or speech text. This practice is also common to other social networks, such as Instagram, to increase user accessibility and to improve ad targeting.

The thorniest part of the new section instead refers to a plan to collect biometric data. It states that the app may "collect biometric identifiers and biometric information as defined by US law, such as facial and voice prints, from User Content. Where required by law, we will ask the user for all necessary authorizations prior to such collection ".

The content of the section is quite vague and, as mentioned, in addition to not explaining for what purpose this type of data will be collected, it does not even clarify if TikTok will look for the permissions requested from users, or if it will look at the laws federal or state to acquire data subject consent. Only a handful of US states have privacy laws regarding biometrics, including Illinois, Washington, California, Texas, and New York. If TikTok asks for consent only where required by law, it could mean that users in other states would not be notified about their data being collected.

During Donald Trump's presidency, the government tried to completely ban TikTok to operate in the United States, calling the app a threat to national security due to its Chinese ownership. However, TikTok assured that it never shared TikTok user data with the Chinese government and Trump's attempt was blocked by the courts.

The new section citing biometric data is still part of a broader update of TikTok's privacy policy. However, it should be noted that this part has only been added for the United States, as other markets such as Europe have stricter data protection and privacy laws.

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