Last Wednesday, the popular Chinese video-sharing app, Tik Tok, announced a change in its privacy policy informing that it may collect biometric data from United States users, TechCrunch reported.

This change in privacy policy generates a lot of concern among Americans because the app is mainly used by young people and the company specified very vaguely about the scope of collecting this biometric data. Not to mention that being a Chinese company it has very close ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The new section in the privacy policy says that it “may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information” from users’ content, including “faceprints and voiceprints.”

This section is called “Image and audio information” and is found under “Information we collect automatically,” within the privacy policy.

It should be noted that when TechCrunch asked Tik Tok, the company would not confirm which product developments required this biometric data to be added to the information it collects from users.

According to what is stated in the new section, Tik Tok can take information from audio and images of users’ content, “such as 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.”

It also mentions that they will use this data for “special video effects, for content moderation, for demographic classification, for content and ad recommendations, and for other non-personally-identifying operations.”

Another point of controversy is this statement found in the new section:

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.

Tik Tok privacy section

Nowhere does it specify whether it will rely on federal law, state law, or both to seek permissions from users. This is not minor, considering that today only New York, California, Washington, Illinois, and Texas have laws protecting people’s biometric privacy, which could mean they could collect data from users in the remaining states without their consent.

Trump’s stance against Tik Tok

During his term in office, Donald Trump attempted to ban the use of Tik Tok in the United States in the name of public safety, calling it a threat to national security as it is a Chinese company.

The Trump administration decided to ban the use of Tik Tok in the U.S., which caused the Chinese company to file a lawsuit in federal court to stop the ban.

The app, owned by ByteDance and based in Beijing, argued that it had not shared information with the Chinese regime and would never do so.
While the federal government appealed the court rulings, the new Biden administration suspended those appeals allowing the Chinese company to continue operating on U.S. soil while putting the privacy of millions of young people who use the app at risk.