FaceApp and Privacy Concerns: What Does the App Do?

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Have you used FaceApp yet? It doesn’t matter if you have used it or not, here are burning concerns about FaceApp and Privacy issues about an app everyone is using nowadays. The app was first launched in 2017 although it did not pick up enough audience like it has won the previous week. It has been noted as well that FaceApp has overtaken all the organic social applications like Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Apple. Celebrities such as Drake and a million others have been seen posting their younger and older photos believed to have been generated by the new brand.

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What is FaceApp? Most of you must be asking yourselves. FaceApp is an internet-based technology of Russian origin believed to have high AI (Artificial intelligence) technology for predicting someone’s later facial appearance based on the current appearance. This is interesting, and it has gone viral the previous week capturing lots of users as compared to the traffic it had in 2017 when it was first launched. The company behind this interesting technology is Wireless Lab based in St Petersburg, Russia.

Such innovations are not only a tremendous brilliant spark in the world of technology but also an inspiration to the young generations with a passion for app development and technology. However, turning to the security bit of it, the FaceApp has raised the tension amongst several users concerned about their data security and privacy.

It is stated that if you are using this App; it is likely that you are permitting Wireless Lab to use every detailed bit of you including photos, names, likenesses, and more in their adverts or billboards as claimed by concerned users over Twitter. It has however not been proved yet that the application has such insecure data management as claimed but the likeliness again proves everything obvious.

Others say “The app is extracting data from unsuspecting users, selling and sharing that data god-knows-where, and justifying it by providing users’ unreadable privacy policies is a near-universal practice. It transcends Cold War phobias. It’s not Russian. It’s not American. It’s a fundamentally capitalist practice. Companies can only provide free apps and profit if they scrape and share data from the people that use it.”

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What does the FaceApp privacy policy say?

FaceApp states in its privacy policy that it uses “third-party analytics tools” that “collect information sent by your device or our Service, including the web pages you visit, add-ons, and other information that assists us in improving the Service.”

The policy highlights that the purpose of this is to “measure traffic and usage trends for the Service,” and reiterates that “we will not rent or sell your information to third parties outside FaceApp.”

But in the same section, it is also written that the app shares information with “third-party organizations that help us provide the Service to you” and delivers targeted ads.

The privacy policy, French security researcher Baptiste Robert told Euronews, is “pretty vague”.

However, he also said: “We don’t have an answer in the how [photos are stored] but we can see that only the photo you are working on is uploaded to their servers.

“They are not uploading the gallery of the user to their server, only the current photo.”

However, Robert highlighted that the company is not General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant, “which is an issue.”

GDPR safeguards EU citizens’ online data. It states that to be able to use an app, an account must be made on the app — FaceApp, however, does not require an account for users to process their pictures.

Jamal Ahmed, a privacy and GDPR consultant for Kazient, also emphasized to Euronews that the company’s privacy policy is “completely non-compliant with GDPR”, adding: “I would welcome action by Supervisory Authorities in Europe to block/ban access to EU citizens from such Data Controllers.”

Furthermore, he 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,” he said.

What has FaceApp said?

Image result for face app drake security FaceApp and Privacy

In a statement to Euronews, FaceApp said that only photos uploaded by the user are sent to the FaceApp cloud, where most of the photo processing for the app is performed.

“We never transfer any other images from the phone to the cloud,” the statement said.

A photo uploaded to the cloud may be stored for reasons of “performance and traffic,” and “most images are deleted from our servers within 48 hours from the upload date.”

The statement reiterated that FaceApp does not “sell or share any user data with any third parties,” adding.

“Even though the core R&D team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia,” it added.

FaceApp also commented on concerns that photos from phone galleries were uploaded to their servers after a user granted access to the photos: “We don’t do that. We upload only a photo selected for editing.”

To upload or not to upload

James Whateley, a strategy partner with Digital UK, weighed in on the issue, telling Euronews: “I just think something is veering on the dishonest when an app parades itself as a bit of fun, not unlike your average ephemeral Snapchat filter, while quietly removing you of all your rights to your likeness.

“The terms aren’t that dissimilar to the Facebook and Instagram of this world but at least with them, you know what you’re signing up for.

Image result for face app drake security FaceApp and Privacy

“With FaceApp, the value ‘exchange’ is not explicit at all. And there’s no opt-out either.”

Robert highlighted the danger of uploading photos to any app: “Uploading your face to a random app is a privacy nightmare. People shouldn’t do that.”

Whereas everyone has his or her conclusion and perspective about the new branded application that predicts your later appearance based on the current photos of you, what do have to say about FaceApp that has been viral the recent week?