Concerns over FaceApp handling of data; US Senator asks for FBI Investigation
US Senator, Chuck Shumer has asked for an FBI and Federal Trade Commission investigation into the Russian photo app FaceApp. Concerns have been raised over how the app stores user’s data as well as their potential political connections to Russia.
In recent days FaceApp went viral, used and shared by millions across social media, to edit photos of people’s faces as an older or younger version of themselves. Given its mass usage, concerns have been raised over the company’s T&Cs and “cavalier approach to users’ data” as reported by the BBC.
BIG: Share if you used #FaceApp:— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 18, 2019
The @FBI & @FTC must look into the national security & privacy risks now
Because millions of Americans have used it
It’s owned by a Russia-based company
And users are required to provide full, irrevocable access to their personal photos & data pic.twitter.com/cejLLwBQcr
The company making the app is headquartered in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
This has raised further uncertainties over how and when the company provides access to third parties and therefore potentially foreign governments. After the DNC was targeted by Russian hackers in the lead-up to the 2016 election, as well as a string of other offences and accusations against the wider ‘Five eyes’ intelligence group. Russia remains a ‘significant counterintelligence threat’ to the Five eyes, and the data captured by them could pose security and privacy risks for anyone who has used the app.
The company has stated that they have 80 million active users. They use artificial intelligence, an algorithm which takes the input picture of your face and adjusts it based on other imagery. In an interview with 9to5Mac, FaceApp responded to the controversy that it “might store” some uploaded photos in the cloud for “performance and traffic” reasons. They also said that while the app’s “core R&D team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia”.
Should we be worried about the FaceApp?
In our view, they just the same as any other privacy policies of other tech services and platforms. There are many other apps and services capturing data. Google researchers disclosed that they used at least 8 million user images to train face recognition, while Facebook researchers stated that they used images of at least 10 million users”.
With the accelerated rate of technology innovation and the hyperproduction of data, it is paramount for everyone to be “cyber aware” as well as help work towards maintaining “cyber hygiene”.
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