Has TikTok Set Off an Another Alarm in Washington, DC?

September 9, 2021

Perhaps TikTok was hoping the recent change to its privacy policy would slip under the radar. The Daily Dot reports that “Senators are ‘Alarmed’ at What TikTok Might Be Doing with your Biometric Data.” The video-sharing platform’s new policy specifies it now “may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information,” like “faceprints and voiceprints.” Why are we not surprised? Two US senators expressed alarm at the new policy which, they emphasize, affects nearly 130 million users while revealing few details. Writer Andrew Wyrich reports,

“That change has sparked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) to ask TikTok for more information on how the app plans to use that data they said they’d begin collecting. Klobuchar and Thune wrote a letter to TikTok earlier this month, which they made public this week. In it, they ask the company to define what constitutes a ‘faceprint’ and a ‘voiceprint’ and how exactly that collected data will be used. They also asked whether that data would be shared with third parties and how long the data will be held by TikTok. … Klobuchar and Thune also asked the company to tell them whether it was collecting biometric data on users under 18 years old; whether it will ‘make any inferences about its users based on faceprints and voiceprints;’ and whether the company would use machine learning to determine a user’s age, gender, race, or ethnicity based on the collected faceprints or voiceprints.”

Our guess is yes to all three, though we are unsure whether the company will admit as much. Nevertheless, the legislators make it clear they expect answers to these questions as well as a list of all entities that will have access to the data. We recommend you do not hold your breath, Senators.

Cynthia Murrell, September 9, 3021


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