TikTok, Congress, Biometric Data, and New Privacy Concerns
Biometric data privacy law
Privacy violations at the U.S. state level
In so many words, the explanation that TikTok’s Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas gives when detailing the particulars of the company’s biometric data collection practices essentially suggests that the manner in which the mobile application works on a technical level prevents the social media company from retaining the biometric data of American citizens. However, while this explanation might seem to be sufficient on a surface level, as testing each individual technical feature within a popular mobile application such as TikTok is outside of the scope of expertise and knowledge of even the most accomplished and well-respected U.S. politicians, it contradicts recent legal rulings that have been imposed against companies in U.S. states where biometric data privacy legislation has been passed.
While the state of Illinois completely changed the biometric data privacy landscape in the U.S. when the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) was first enacted in 2008, the unfortunate reality is that the overwhelming majority of U.S. states have yet to pass similar laws. For this reason, major tech and social media companies such as TikTok can effectively collect the biometric data of American citizens with little to no issue, regardless of any questions that a government official may pose to them during a Congressional hearing or another similar legal setting. Furthermore, large-scale corporations will continue to dodge questions regarding their data privacy policies until the U.S. passes a comprehensive data privacy law at the federal level.