TikTok Is Eyeing US Users' Biometric Data, Here's What That Means For You

The firm can now collect biometric data on you.
Loukia Papadopoulos

TikTok changed its privacy policy this week on June 2, 2021, and for most people, it likely went unnoticed. However, it shouldn't if you are concerned about privacy.

"We have updated our Privacy Policy. Among other clarifying changes, we have added more details about the information we collect and how it's used, including clarifications related to, for example, collection of user content information, use of data for verification, ad related choices, data sharing with third party services, and data storage/processing practices," wrote TikTok on its webpage.

So what are these changes?

The social video app announced it was allowing new data collection to enable “special video effects, for content moderation, for demographic classification, for content and ad recommendations, and for other non-personally-identifying operations." The new announcement was included in a new section, called “Image and Audio Information,” found under the heading called “Information we collect automatically” in the privacy policy.

The app also stated it may collect biometric data with the lines: "We may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information as defined under U.S. laws, such as faceprints and voiceprints, from your User Content. Where required by law, we will seek any required permissions from you prior to any such collection."

The problem with this last statement is its vagueness. It does not specify which laws it plans to follow or what exactly it means by faceprints and voiceprints. It's also unclear how collecting this type of data helps users of the app at all.

It should be noted that around this same last year, TikTok was threatened with being banned in the U.S. by the Trump administration. Then-president Donald Trump called the app a "national security threat" because of its ownership by a Chinese company.