Social Media

TikTok Wants to Tap Into Users’ Biometric Information

By Bill Toulas / June 4, 2021

TikTok has just introduced an unexpected section on its privacy policy to inform its users that the app “may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information, including faceprints and voiceprints” from them. This was added under the “Information we collect automatically” section, and it concerns types of that the user will need to give their consent for the collection to take place. Of course, there’s the risk of having millions of users agreeing to the revision without even taking a look, and TikTok knows that.

In the same section, TikTok mentions the possibility to identify objects and scenery that appears in the images and audio of the user content, discern the locations, identify the faces of depicted persons, etc. The reason for collecting all this data is to enable special video effects, conduct content moderation, perform demographic classification, push personalized ads, and other operations.

If we were to make assumptions from all the above, it would be that TikTok is looking to collect massive amounts of useful data to train its AI-based machine learning systems. As for the video effects mentioned, it sounds like TikTok is preparing a new AR (augmented reality) system to further enrich the user experience on the platform. Again, the new section is pretty vague and only looks to cover the platform’s legal obligation to mention the details of its data collection practices.

This is a very sensitive topic for TikTok and one that has forced it to depart with $92 million in a class-action lawsuit submitted in the U.S. and which reached a settlement agreement in February 2021. The lawsuit was based on the fact that TikTok was collecting facial scans and GPS data without mentioning it in the privacy policy and without explaining the reasons for collection.

So, now TikTok mentions them and explains the reasons. If you still wish to continue using the app on your mobile device, you should also know that TikTok collects metadata from the content you upload, the messages you exchange with other users, your device information, your app usage patterns, your keyboard stroke patterns, your location data (IP address, SIM serving point, and GPS), and a lot more.

It is unclear why TikTok hasn’t asked for additional consent from its users yet, although some users report having seen a pop-up informing them about a Privacy Policy update but couldn’t access the page and read it.



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