WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD) sent a letter to TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew requesting information about the company’s collection of consumer data, including facial and voice biometrics.
They continued, “The coronavirus pandemic led to an increase in online activity, which has magnified the need to protect consumers’ privacy. This is especially true for children and teenagers, who comprise more than 32 percent of TikTok’s active users and have relied on online applications such as TikTok for entertainment and for interaction with their friends and loved ones.”
In her role as Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar has championed efforts to protect consumer privacy – especially with regard to enhancing online consumer privacy and cybersecurity.
Last week, Klobuchar and Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA) sent a letter to Amazon requesting information about the company’s data collection practices involving biometrics.
In June, Klobuchar and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent a letter to Uber and Lyft expressing concern about a new advertising program that may compromise passengers’ privacy in ride-share vehicles.
In February, Klobuchar and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) introduced the Protecting Personal Health Data Act to protect consumers’ private health data by requiring the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to promulgate regulations for new health technologies such as health apps, wearable devices, and direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits that are not regulated by existing laws.
Last December, Klobuchar sent a letter to former Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, urging the Trump administration to address privacy concerns surrounding the Amazon Halo, a health tracking bracelet.
In December 2019, Klobuchar joined Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and fellow Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Ed Markey (D-MA) in unveiling comprehensive federal online privacy legislation to establish digital rules of the road that companies must follow. The Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA) gives Americans control over their personal data; prohibits companies from using consumers’ data to harm or deceive them; establishes strict standards for the collection, use, sharing, and protection of consumer data; protects civil rights; and penalizes companies that fail to meet data protection standards.
Full text of the letter can be found HERE and below.
The coronavirus pandemic led to an increase in online activity, which has magnified the need to protect consumers’ privacy. This is especially true for children and teenagers, who comprise more than 32 percent of TikTok’s active users and have relied on online applications such as TikTok for entertainment and for interaction with their friends and loved ones.
Protecting consumers’ privacy is a top priority. Given the seriousness of this issue, we request that you provide answers to the following questions by August 25, 2021:
- What constitutes a “faceprint” and “voiceprint”? Please provide definitions of these terms and describe how this data will be used. Will it be shared with third parties? How long is this data retained?
- Is TikTok collecting this data for users under the age of 18?
- Does TikTok make any inferences about its users based on faceprints and voiceprints? If so, please describe those in detail.
- Does TikTok use machine learning to determine a user’s age, gender, race, ethnicity, or other characteristics observed from faceprints and voiceprints? If so, what steps has TikTok taken to audit the machine learning process for accuracy and bias?
- Please provide a list of all the entities (including parent organizations) that have access to the data collected by TikTok.
We look forward to your prompt responses.
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