X Corp’s new biometric policy draws scrutiny amid privacy concerns


X Corp, the tech giant formerly known as Twitter, recently announced an update to its privacy policy, stating that the company will begin collecting biometric data from users for “safety, security and identification purposes”.

The policy, set to take effect on 29 September, aims to bolster account security and tackle rampant fraud on the platform.

According to a spokesperson from X, the new biometric policies are specifically tailored for premium users. “This will also help X fight impersonation attempts and make the platform more secure,” the spokesperson told Bloomberg. Despite the intended security enhancements, the announcement has sparked concerns among privacy advocates who point out that the collection of biometric data, such as facial and eye scans, poses inherent risks given its permanent and sensitive nature.

Critics are particularly concerned about X Corp’s intent and future use of this data. “This kind of data collection is becoming more common on platforms and most people aren’t aware of the way it affects their privacy and free expression rights,” said Nora Benavidez, senior counsel and director of digital justice and civil rights at the nonprofit Free Press. She added that she has concerns about the company potentially sharing information with authoritarian regimes, especially given Musk’s history of compliance with such requests.

The collection of biometric data is not just a privacy issue but also poses a risk of discrimination. Technologies used for biometric matching have been known to exhibit higher rates of false positives for people of colour, noted Benavidez. Furthermore, X Corp is already facing legal issues; last month the company was named in a proposed class action lawsuit in Illinois for alleged violations of the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act.

Tatiana Rice, senior counsel at the Future of Privacy Forum, said that while biometric data can be a secure way of verifying identities, user privacy must be paramount. Currently, X Corp has not disclosed how long it will retain the biometric data or its deletion policies.

The updated policy also notes that X may collect and use other personal information for job recommendation services and advertising, adding yet another layer of concerns about the extent of data collection by the tech company.

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