TikTok just expanded ways they can collect data on your face and voice

Chris Burns - Jun 4, 2021, 3:10pm CDT
TikTok just expanded ways they can collect data on your face and voice

An update made to TikTok’s privacy policy this week made it technically legal to automatically collect data on you and your activities in the app. This update includes notes about biometric identifiers – like fingerprint scans and “voiceprints”. In the notes, TikTok suggests that they will seek “any required permissions” to get this data, but only “where required by law.”

As spotted by TechCrunch, in the latest version of the US privacy policy for TikTok, you’ll find changes to “Image and Audio Information”. See the Wayback Machine saved image of this change as of June 4, 2021. Scroll to “Information we collect automatically and compare to what was posted as of May 30, 2021.

Removed from this area is a sentence as follows: “We also link your subscriber information with your activity on our Platform across all your devices using your email, phone number, or similar information.” That could be good – maybe TikTok has decided to track users slightly less than they were before – or at least that’s what it looks like if this is the ONLY change you notice. The rest seems to move in the opposite direction.

An entire section was added under “Image and Audio Information.” There, TikTok adds a note that they may collect information “about the images and autio that are a part of your User Content.” TikTok notes that they may collect information by “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.”

TikTok notes in their policy that this data may be collected to enable the following:
• Special video effects
• Content moderation
• Demographic classification
• Content recommendations
• Advertising recommendations
• Non-personally-identifying operations

As noted above, TikTok also added a note about how they may “collect biometric identifiers and biometric information.” This may include face-prints and voiceprints “from your User Content.”

They also added a more all-encompassing description of how they may collect information on the devices you use to access TikTok. Before, they included IP address, Unique device identifiers, model, mobile carrier, time zone, screen resolution, OS, app names, file names, file types, “keystroke patterns or rythms”, and platform.

Now, TikTok also includes user agent, network type, “identifiers for advertising purposes,” device IDs, battery state, audio settings, and connected audio devices. They’ve expanded their ability to collect information across devices, to make absolutely sure that if you log in to multiple devices, they will “be able to use your profile information to identify your activity across devices.”

TikTok can also now use “informatiuon collected from devices other than those you use to log-in to the Platform.” That effectively gives them the right to utilize audio that comes from devices connected to your smartphone – like connected microphones, smart speakers, and so forth.

Wrap-up

Why should you care if TikTok is expanding the ways in which they can collect data based on your activities on your smartphone while using TikTok? If you knew that TikTok was just as guilty as any other social network of collection user data on you whenever you use the app, you probably won’t care about this newest update. If, however, you had the idea that TikTok was far more private than Facebook, Instagram, or other apps like them – now’s a good time to reconsider how you use the app and the network.


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