TikTok will now collect biometric information from US users

TikTok has just added a new clause to its privacy policy, which informs users that the platform might “collect biometric identifiers and biometric information” from its user base in the United States. The policy further explains that by biometric, it means “faceprints and voiceprints”, and adds that it will be asking permission before collecting the data, should legal requirements deem it necessary.

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Images and Audio Collection

The revelation was made in the “Information we collect automatically” tab, under the new “Image and Audio Information” section. To be fair, the tab provides users with with the list of information that TikTok collects.

The new section, apart from containing a vague description regarding the concerning biometrics collection, also provides an insight (and a much more detailed one at that) into the type of audio and image information that the platform takes up, for purposes like “identifying the objects and scenery that appear, the existence and location within an image of face and body features and attributes, the nature of the audio, and the text of the words spoken in your User Content.”

Keep in mind that TikTok isn’t the only service carrying out such tagging activities. Other platforms also take similar measures for ad targeting purposes, as well as for powering accessibility settings.

Another likely use of the collection of such data will be “special video effects, for content moderation, for demographic classification, for content and ad recommendations, and for other non-personally-identifying operations.”

The Real Deal

With the need for collection of image and audio data explained and out of the way, users are left scratching their heads over what the need for the biometric data is. TikTok has not provided any information on what it really means by ” faceprints” and “voiceprints”, and neither has it explained whether “legislations” mean state or federal laws, or both.

Experts say this is important, considering how only a few US states have laws pertaining to biometric information collection, which could mean no protective cover for people in other states.