Senators challenge TikTok's 'alarming' plan to collect users' voice and face biometrics ' TechCrunch

TikToks' plans to collect biometric identifications from its users has raised concerns among U.S. lawmakers. They are asking the company to reveal what information it collects, and what it plans with that data.
Sens. John Thune (R-SD), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), express concern over the recent changes to TikTok's privacy policy. This allows the company to automatically gather biometric data including certain behavioral and physical characteristics from video content uploaded by users.

TechCrunch reported the details of the new privacy policies in June. TikTok stated that it would seek permissions to collect voiceprints and faceprints where required by law. However, TechCrunch did not specify whether it was considering federal law or state laws (only a few states in the United States have biometric privacy laws), and only a few states, such as New York, California, Texas, Washington, Washington, and Washington.

In a letter to Klobuchar, Thunes asks TikTok for an explanation of what constitutes a voiceprint and faceprint. They also want to know how the data will be used and how long they will be kept. The senators also asked TikTok whether data is collected for users younger than 18 years old; whether it draws any inferences about users based upon biometric data it collects; as well as if it will use the data and what it will do with it.

The letter states that the coronavirus pandemic caused an increase in online activity which has increased the need to protect privacy. This is particularly true for teenagers and children, who account for more than 32% on TikTok's active users. They rely on online applications like TikTok to entertain themselves and interact with their loved ones.

TikTok was given until August 25th to answer the questions of the legislators. TikTok spokesperson could not be reached immediately.

TikToks data collection practices are not new. The company settled a class action lawsuit alleging that it illegally collected biometric data from users and shared it with third-parties. After the FTC in 2019 fined TikTok $5.7 million for violating the Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires that apps obtain parental consent before they collect minor data, this was done.