A change to lớn TikTok’s U.S. privacy policy on Wednesday introduced a new section that says the social đoạn Clip app “may collect biometric identifiers và biometric information” from its users’ nội dung. This includes things like “faceprints & voiceprints,” the policy explained. Reached for bình luận, TikTok could not confirm what hàng hóa developments necessitated the addition of biometric data to lớn its list of disclosures about the information it automatically collects from users, but said it would ask for consent in the case such data collection practices began.

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The biometric data collection details were introduced in the newly added section, “Image và Audio Information,” found under the heading of “Information we collect automatically” in the policy.

This is the part of TikTok’s Privacy Policy that lists the types of data the ứng dụng gathers from users, which was already fairly extensive sầu.

The first part of the new section explains that TikTok may collect information about the images và audio that are in users’ nội dung, “such as identifying the objects and scenery that appear, the existence and location within an image of face & toàn thân features and attributes, the nature of the audio, và the text of the words spoken in your User Content.”

While that may sound creepy, other social networks do object recognition on images you upload to lớn power accessibility features (like describing what’s in an Instagram phokhổng lồ, for example), as well as for ad targeting purposes. Identifying where a person & the scenery is can help with AR effects, while converting spoken words lớn text helps with features lượt thích TikTok’s automatic captions.

TikTok adds tự động captions to lớn make videos accessible lớn hard of hearing and deaf

The policy also notes this part of the data collection is for enabling “special Clip effects, for content moderation, for demographic classification, for content & ad recommendations, & for other non-personally-identifying operations,” it says.

The more concerning part of the new section references a plan khổng lồ collect biometric data.

It states:

We may collect biometric identifiers và biometric information as defined under US laws, such as faceprints & voiceprints, from your User Content. Where required by law, we will seek any required permissions from you prior to any such collection.

The statement itself is vague, as it doesn’t specify whether it’s considering federal law, states laws, or both. It also doesn’t explain, as the other part did, why TikTok needs this data. It doesn’t define the terms “faceprints” or “voiceprints.” Nor does it explain how it would go about seeking the “required permissions” from users, or if it would look to either state or federal laws to lớn guide that process of gaining consent.

That’s important because as it stands today, only a handful of U.S. states have sầu biometric privacy laws, including Illinois, Washington, California, Texas và Thủ đô New York. If TikTok only requested consent, “where required by law,” it could mean users in other states would not have khổng lồ be informed about the data collection.

Reached for bình luận, a TikTok spokesperson could not offer more details on the company’s plans for biometric data collection or how it may tie in lớn either current or future products.

“As part of our ongoing commitment lớn transparency, we recently updated our Privacy Policy to lớn provide more clarity on the information we may collect,” the spokesperson said.

The company also pointed us to an article about its approach to data security, TikTok’s lakiểm tra Transparency Report và the recently launched privacy and security hub, which is aimed at helping people better understand their privacy choices on the tiện ích.

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Photo lớn by NOAH SEELAM / AFP) (Photo by NOAH SEELAM/AFPhường. via Getty Images)

The biometric disclosure comes at a time when TikTok has been working to regain the trust of some U.S. users.

Under the Trump administration, the federal government attempted khổng lồ ban TikTok from operating in the U.S. entirely, calling the ứng dụng a national security threat because of its ownership by a Chinese company. TikTok fought back against the ban and went on record khổng lồ state it only stores TikTok U.S. user data in its U.S. data centers and in Singapore.

It said it has never shared TikTok user data with the Chinese government nor censored nội dung, despite being owned by Beijing-based ByteDance. And it said it would never bởi vì so, if asked.

Though the TikTok ban was initially stopped in the courts, the federal government appealed the rulings. But when President Biden took office, his administration put the appeal process on hold as it reviewed the actions taken by his predecessor. And although Biden has, as of today, signed an executive order to restrict U.S. investment in Chinese firms linked lớn surveillance, his administration’s position on TikTok remains unclear.

TikTok launches a new information hub & Twitter trương mục to ‘correct the record,’ it says

It is worth noting, however, that the new disclosure about biometric data collection follows a $92 million settlement in a class action lawsuit against TikTok, originally filed in May 2020, over the social media app’s violation of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act. The consolidated suit included more than trăng tròn separate cases filed against TikTok over the platform’s collection & sharing of the personal & biometric information without user consent. Specifically, this involved the use of facial filter công nghệ for special effects.

In that context, TikTok’s legal team may have sầu wanted to quickly cover themselves from future lawsuits by adding a clause that permits the app khổng lồ collect personal biometric data.

The disclosure, we should also point out, has only been added to lớn the U.S. Privacy Policy, as other markets lượt thích the EU have sầu stricter data protection and privacy laws.

The new section was part of a broader update lớn TikTok’s Privacy Policy, which included other changes both large and small, ranging from corrections of earlier typos to revamped or even entirely new sections. Most of these tweaks và changes could be easily explained, though — like new sections that clearly referenced TikTok’s e-commerce ambitions or adjustments aimed at addressing the implications of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency on targeted advertising.

In the grvà scheme of things, TikTok still has plenty of data on its users, their nội dung và their devices, even without biometric data.

For example, TikTok policy already stated it automatically collects information about users’ devices, including location data based on your SIM thẻ and IP addresses và GPS, your use of TikTok itself and all the nội dung you create or upload, the data you send in messages on its app, metadata from the nội dung you upload, cookies, the phầm mềm và file names on your device, battery state & even your keystroke patterns and rhythms, among mỏi other things.

This is in addition lớn the “Information you choose lớn provide,” which comes from when you register, tương tác TikTok or upload content. In that case, TikTok collects your registration info (username, age, language, etc.), protệp tin info (name, pholớn, social truyền thông accounts), all your user-generated content on the platform, your phone & social network contacts, payment information, plus the text, images và Clip found in the device’s clipboard. (TikTok, as you may reĐiện thoại tư vấn, got busted by Apple’s iOS 14 feature that alerted users to lớn the fact that TikTok and other apps were accessing iOS clipboard content. Now, the policy says TikTok “may collect” clipboard data “with your permission.”)

The nội dung of the Privacy Policy itself wasn’t of immediate concern to lớn some TikTok users. Instead, it was the buggy rollout.

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Some users reported seeing a pop-up message alerting them to lớn the Privacy Policy update, but the page was not available when they tried to read it. Others complained of seeing the pop-up repeatedly. This issue doesn’t appear to lớn be universal. In tests, we did not have an issue with the pop-up ourselves.

tiktok_us if you’re going to lớn FORCE users to sign a new privacy policy I think you should make it available khổng lồ read. pic.twitter.com/0qw9UfS8Q2

— Matthew Eric (
Yes Tiktok, you changed your privacy policy, you only need to tell me once pic.twitter.com/LRs7CxcNht

— Dieghoe (
if i open up tiktok one more time và see that notification that they’ve updated their privacy policy i might just- pic.twitter.com/uzArIoysZW