TikTok’s New Privacy Policy Allows Its App To Collect Americans’ Faceprints, Voiceprints and Biometric Data

(Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Andrew Trunsky Political Reporter
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TikTok quietly changed its privacy policy for American users last week, allowing its app to collect users’ faceprints, voiceprints and biometric data.

The June 2 update, which was first reported by the technology site TechCrunch, is under the section “information we collect automatically,” allowing the company to collect users’ data without directly notifying them.

“We may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information as defined under US 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,” the company’s new policy says.

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, it did respond to TechCrunch, which noted that it was unable to explain why it needed Americans faceprints and biometric data in the first place. (RELATED: Does TikTok Pose A Security Threat?)

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

The TikTok building in Culver City, California. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

The TikTok building in Culver City, California. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

The new policy arrives four months after TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, was ordered to pay $92 million to settle a class-action lawsuit after allegedly violating Illinois’ biometric privacy law.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday revoked former President Donald Trump’s executive order that sought to ban TikTok in the U.S., instead directing the Commerce Secretary to evaluate software applications connected with foreign adversaries like China, and “take action, as appropriate.” Biden also signed an executive order last Thursday banning U.S. investment in Chinese companies.

After Trump moved to ban TikTok in 2020, its parent company, ByteDance, reached a tentative deal with Oracle and Walmart that would make it at least partially American-owned, but that deal appears to be dead. The Biden administration moved in February to place the company’s lawsuit against the U.S. government on hold.

Federal judges previously ruled against Trump’s attempted TikTok and WeChat bans. One found that the administration overstepped its authority in ordering TikTok to shut down, while another ruled against the administration in its WeChat case on First Amendment grounds.

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Andrew Trunsky

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