TikTok quietly updated its privacy policy before this week in a means which permits the company to automatically collect extensive data on users from the United States–including data about their faces and their voice.


The policy shift, first seen by TechCrunch, specifically states that TikTok”may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information as described under US legislation,” such as”faceprints” and”voiceprints,” from movies users upload to their stage. In addition to this, the new policy also clarifies that other information like”the essence of the audio, and the text of the words spoken on your User Content,” might also be automatically collected.

There are a range of motives TikTok might be collecting this information. One is, of course, advertising–that the updated privacy policy notes that, along with voice and face information, it might also collect information for functions”for example identifying the items and scenery that appear,” which is increasingly common in the marketing world. It may also utilize the voice information to enable its automatic captions feature. None of this would be to say these will be the only things TikTok will do with this data–that seems unlikely, at best–but these are a few obvious choices.

It’s also worth pointing out that this face- and – voice-related information appears under a new header in the policy–“Information we gather automatically”–which implies that TikTok may have the ability to hoover this data without users realizing that is what they are agreeing to. From the 47 countries which don’t have those constraints, there is nothing stopping the business from collecting that data without a consumer’s explicit consent.

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Despite falling into the Trump administration’s line of fire this past year, most cybersecurity researchers have noticed that TikTok isn’t always any more of a danger than data-hoovering giants like Facebook and Google–although the bar they set is fairly low. It’s also worth mentioning a couple of months ago, TikTok really paid a whopping $92 million to settle allegations out of TikTokers in Illinois that the company was flouting the nation’s biometric data-collection legislation.