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24 Mär 2023

Access Now asks for transparency concerning TikTok's new "Focused View" feature

Access Now invited TikTok to reply to specific questions about whether it conducted human rights due diligence prior to launching the new 'Focused View' feature. As explained on TikTok's website, Focused View "offers a way for advertisers to drive brand impact by ensuring their ads are shown to users who are truly paying attention — to users who are both emotionally and tangibly engaged."

This feature, argues Estelle Massé, Global Data Protection Lead at Access Now, "is not only an invasion of privacy, but is opening the gate for dystopian claims of invasive-emotion detection — both incredibly frightening, and often unscientific.”

  • Did TikTok conduct any impact assessments, including a data protection impact assessment, to identify the human rights risks of this feature?
  • What user data does TikTok process to measure and assert a person is giving their “voluntarily undivided attention” to an ad and is “emotionally engaging” for at least six seconds? and
  • What legal basis available under the General Data Protection Regulation is TikTok relying on to ensure the lawfulness of the different processing taking place for all or some of these activities?

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre also invited TikTok to respond to concerns that the new features is jeopardising the privacy of the platform's 200 million users. TikTok replied by saying that "TikTok's Focused View product does not use emotion recognition techniques" and that the functionalities of the feature are "consistent with [the] Privacy Policy". TikTok did not respond as to whether it conducted a data protection impact assessment.