US renews warning about Chinese biometric technology for a world audience
In December 2020, the U.S. Homeland Security Department warned that buying biometric systems from China is “a grave threat.” Almost exactly two years later, DHS is warning again about buying biometric goods from China.
The biggest difference between the two statements is that this week, the United States is warning executives around the globe of the price to be paid by their businesses for buying Chinese.
The previous statement, made during a nationalistic administration, talked about the threat that U.S. businesses bring home to domestic security.
That threat has not changed, and if buyers worldwide are still attracted to low prices for security-related software and hardware, it may take a catastrophic data or control breach made possible by the products to change attitudes.
Other voices are trying to shake up U.S. (at least) biometric and communication markets.
Brendan Carr, a Federal Communications Commission member is again sounding an alarm about Chinese-held social media firm TikTok. Carr says it is “digital fentanyl,” a choice of words that might rub some addiction sufferers the wrong way.
The company’s short videos are only enticements to reveal personally identifiable information that he and many others say is what autocratically controlled China wants.
Carr says that a broad spectrum of the biometrics of TikTok users is being collected and, in fact people are being surveilled.
ByteDance, in China, owns TikTok and refutes accusations of inappropriate data management. Executives have said engineers outside the United States can access subscriber data only when necessary and under strict controls.
Another voice, that of the Center for Security and Emerging Technology, takes its own bite of the issue in a new report. It largely puts a lack of progress in this campaign in the U.S. Congress’ lap.
Lawmakers have the power they need to stop private and public entities from Chinese firms that have been identified as threats.
It might be best to focus on legal remedies which at least seem to get ByteDance to move of pat denials. A class action before a U.S. district judge accusing the company of taking liberties with the data of TikTok subscribers was settled recently for $92 million but has gained a new life.
The judge allowed 851 class members to opt out of the class and pursue 851 separate arbitration claims.