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TikTok says physical biometrics stay on users’ devices, keystroke logs do not

TikTok says physical biometrics stay on users’ devices, keystroke logs do not

It was difficult to see social media executives testifying before a U.S. Senate committee and not think about the numerous previous examples of a seemingly impervious slate of industry executives trying to look happy about their appearance.

The tobacco executives appearing to assure the nation that smoking is a fine and patriotic thing to do is a good example, and one that the social media executives might want to avoid thinking about.

Two chief privacy officers, Neal Mohan of YouTube and Chris Cox of Meta; TikTok chief operating officer Vanessa Pappas and Twitter General Manager of Consumer Product Jay Sullivan were there to try to assure the Senate that their platforms do not harm national security.

Trade publication TechCrunch reported on the event and paid particular attention to how Pappas handled questions about TikTok’s last year changed its privacy policy to say the company reserved the right to harvest facial images, fingerprints and other biometric identifiers of its U.S. subscribers.

Asked about it directly, Pappas said TikTok does not collect any biometrics capable of identifying someone, according to TechCrunch. Data collected was for enhancing content, like automated masks, and stays on the user’s device.

Pappas was also asked about whether TikTok captures users’ keystrokes, which can also be used as a biometric identifier. She responded that the company does not collect the content of what is typed, leaving open the question of its potential use as a behavioral biometric.

At another point, Mohan and Cox were asked why their platforms were slow to do something about content that was feeding violent sentiment in the United Sates. There not being a complimentary response to that question, the executives talked about how they handle similar problems today, according to trade publication Engadget.

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