Asked by the TechCrunch website to further clarify these changes, the Chinese company ByteDance was unable to detail which products would require the collection of biometric data for their development, but said that obtaining this data will depend on users’ prior consent before being processed.
But capturing user data will not be limited to biometric data. Also other details present in the contents will be collected, “such as the identification of objects and scenarios that appear in the frame”, in addition to the “nature of the audio and the text of the words spoken in your User Content”.
Unilateral decision to collect biometric data
Despite sounding invasive, it must be remembered that the practice is adopted by most social networks, which recognize objects in the images we post (to describe an Instagram photo, for example) and for ad targeting. This data can also be useful in creating augmented reality effects, while voice-to-text conversion can be justified as a feature for automatic captioning.
However, this unilateral decision to collect biometric data, without a guideline on how it will be obtained and used later, is explained by TikTok in a vague way, as they say they will act “as defined by US law”. But the question that fits here is: what laws? The American federation has thousands of legal regulations, and few of them specific to biometric privacy.
It is possible that the measures taken by TikTok are intended to guard against future lawsuits for violation of biometric laws, such as the one that recently convicted the company in a class action in the US state of Illinois.