ByteDance, the Chinese company behind TikTok, boasts that it does not collect users’ biometric data

The accusation is made in reference to TikTok users in the United States, who upon installing the app must give their consent to “automatic collection of information”, including “biometric identifiers and biometric information, defined by US law as facial and voice prints”.

As it could be both the pretext for a class-action lawsuit with heavy fines against ByteDance and the pretext for a de facto ban on the TikTok app in the US, allegations based on a tacit change in privacy policy under which the app can collect biometric data about US users are now being investigated at the highest level.

A China-based company, ByteDance must abide by Chinese law under which all local companies are required to comply with any requests received from authorities under the Chinese Communist Party and even include representatives appointed by the CPP in their management circle. In other words, as a company with access to a wide variety of information about the citizens of a nation perceived by the PPC as a direct adversary, ByteDance can only be a collaborator of the security apparatus responsible for monitoring and controlling every aspect of Chinese society, lacking only the evidence to prove this unequivocally.

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By changing its privacy policy to allow the app to collect biometric data about US users, including “facial and voice prints,” ByteDance has de facto confirmed its affiliation with PPC interests, a change perceived as troubling but going almost unnoticed by TikTok users too busy watching viral videos on fire. Apparently, the lack of reaction has also been at the level of US authorities, with a Senate hearing held last October failing to produce any concrete action.

TikTok’s privacy policy change introduced a new section called “Image and Audio Information” under the “Information we automatically collect” section. Here, it detailed the types of images and audio that could be collected, including “biometric identifiers and biometric information as defined by U.S. law, such as facial and voice prints.” But the language used was vague, lacking precise clarification of the laws involved, with the intended effect of delaying or avoiding an official investigation.

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