FaceApp has taken social media by storm over the past couple of days with several celebrities using it to share aged selfies. The app was originally launched in January 2017 but recently went viral following the #faceappchallenge on social media sites. Using artificial intelligence, the app’s updated features allow users to alter their pictures to see an aged version of themselves.
He also flagged concerns over the app’s Russian connection. “I would not be surprised if in the future it transpired they harvested/shared this data with Russian authorities for facial recognition state surveillance.”
At the centre of security concerns is the app’s terms of service which includes the following: “You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you.”
Over 80 million people have used the app till date and some users are worried that the company’s terms of services gives them too much control over collected data. In a statement to TechCrunch, FaceApp said it accepts requests from users to remove their data from its servers. Users can send the request by following these instructions: Setting>Support> Report a bug with the word “privacy” in the subject line.
However, another element of concern is that the developer’s company (Wireless Lab) is based in St Petersburg, Russia. With Russia’s implication in the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committees’ emails, people are worried that FaceApp could share collected data with Russian authorities for facial recognition learning.
The founder of FaceApp has responded to concerns in a statement and said: “We don’t sell or share any user data with third parties. Even though the core Research and Development team is in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia.”
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) told BBC News it was aware of stories raising concerns about FaceApp and that it would be considering them.
“We would advise people signing up to any app to check what will happen to their personal information and not to provide any personal details until they are clear about how they will be used,” a spokeswoman for the ICO said.
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