TikTok could now collect biometric data on US users

·2-min read
TikTok "may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information" from users in the US.

TikTok faces turmoil in the United States after a major change to its US privacy policy was revealed. The application, which has been accused of illegally collecting personal data for many months, is now facing a new controversy over the potential collection of users' biometric data.

Relations are looking rocky between TikTok and the United States -- a situation that's not likely to be aided by this new discovery. The TechCrunch website reveals that, in the latest update to the application's US privacy policy, June 2, the Chinese social network states that it "may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information" from its users' content. In other words, the fingerprints, faceprints and voiceprints of American users now appear to be in the hands of the Chinese giant.

TikTok in the eye of the storm

The social network has been in the eye of the storm in the US for some time now. In recent months, TikTok parent company ByteDance has been accused of illegally collecting the personal data of its users and then sharing this with private Chinese stakeholders. In fact, the Chinese company had to pay $92 million to settle a class-action lawsuit. This privacy policy update potentially exploits a legal vacuum in a large majority of American states. Indeed, TikTok only asks for users' consent when required by law. However, each state has its own regulations regarding biometric data.

Moreover, the Chinese social network states that it wants to collect data to help improve its algorithm for content and advertising, content moderation and for the enhanced use of special effects on the platform's videos.

ByteDance and TikTok are risking big in their most important market. Donald Trump already wanted to ban the Chinese social network during his Presidency, before a federal judge put a stop to his plans. While the application has been trying to regain the trust of its users since then, there is no doubt that this news may not do its image any favors. As yet, no information has come to light on the collection of data in Europe, where the platform is subject to the European Union's GDPR regulations.

Axel Barre