Chinese-Owned TikTok Will Now Collect Kids’ “Faceprint” and “Voiceprint”


TikTok, a massively popular social media app owned and operated by a firm in China, has just given itself permission to collect user biometric data such as “faceprints” and “voiceprints.”

According to TechCrunch, the teen-focused app recently updated its privacy policy, adding a section explaining that it will collect biometric information from its users’ content.

The tech blog sought comment from TikTok, who did not confirm exactly what product developments required the acquisition of biometric data.

The new privacy policy section states that the app will automatically harvest information from user’s videos, “such as identifying the objects and scenery that appear, the existence and location within an image of face and body features and attributes, the nature of the audio, and the text of the words spoken in your User Content.”

This aspect of data collection, the policy explains, is to enable “special video effects, for content moderation, for demographic classification, for content and ad recommendations, and for other non-personally-identifying operations.”

“We may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information as defined under US laws, such as faceprints and voiceprints, from your User Content,” the new policy section goes on. “Where required by law, we will seek any required permissions from you prior to any such collection.”

That alarmingly vague statement does not clarify whether TikTok will consider federal law, state law, or both while it harvests biometric data from its young users, nor does it explain why it needs that data, and it certainly fails to define the terms “faceprints” and “voiceprints.” It also doesn’t explain how it would go about seeking the “required permissions” from its users, many of which are minors.

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