TikTok Quietly Updated Privacy Policy to Collect Faceprints and Voiceprints – archived source

TikTok Quietly Updated Privacy Policy to Collect Faceprints and Voiceprints

June 22, 2021 2 minute read

TikTok, one of the most downloaded apps of 2021 so far, decided to quietly update its privacy policy to collect biometric identifiers and biometric information know in the US as faceprints and voiceprints. The trendy app, owned by the Chinese internet technology company ByteDance, added a new section to its privacy policy called ‘Image and Audio Information.’

With the bold move, the Beijing-based company can now automatically collect those new types of biometric data. According to the updated privacy policy, the data will be used for non-personally-identifying operations such as enabling special video effects, content moderation, demographic classification, and ad recommendations.

Even though that TikTok’s privacy policy explicitly says that they do not sell personal information to third parties, they also leave the door open, saying that they can share business information, including faceprints and voiceprints, for business purposes. For an app that does not need this type of data to function, collecting such information might be seen as unjustified by many.

Data leaks are not uncommon, and many fear one day such information might end up in the wrong if mishandled. Violating privacy policies is not unusual for TikTok. ByteDance agreed to pay $92 million earlier this year, settling a class-action lawsuit for failing to adhere to the Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act. TikTok took responsibility for sharing harvested personal information with third parties located worldwide, including China.

Another concern that looms over ByteDance is that the company might one day be forced by China’s ruling communist party to share such biometric information with the government. The one-hundred million Americans using the app once a month might not be thrilled to know that such data might potentially end up being used for sinister purposes such as re-identifying individuals without their consent or surveillance by a foreign government.

Some might say that such information does not belong in the hands of a single private company with members of the communist party working in its HQ in China’s capital. However, no one knows for sure if TikTok is a national security threat. The company’s US counterparts on many occasions have said that they have not been asked to share any information with the Chinese government, nor they would agree to do so if the Chinese government approaches them.

TikTok is used at least once a month by almost every third American; the app is extremely popular, with hundreds of millions of people using it every day. However, the trendy app data collections one day may end up being problematic. If you do not feel confident in TikTok, delete it from your device and ensure that you always have proper security protection installed on all your connected devices. Hackers like easy targets, and you have the choice to not be one.

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