It's the hottest item on the ITunes App Store and celebrities are promoting it like crazy but there are growing concerns about the invasion of privacy and what information it can access.
FaceApp, a free download, is the hottest thing in the iTunes App Store.
Nick Jonas of music group The Jonas Brothers is addicted to FaceApp.
— Offensive Loons Fan (@offensiveloons) July 17, 2019
UK crooner Sam Smith looks like a swell grandaddy. Photo: Sam Smith / Instagram
Los Angeles Lakers NBA star LeBron James loves FaceApp. Photo: kingjames/Instagram
— clupro (@clupro) July 17, 2019
“Wow!! When ENDGAME is truly the END of the line … hahaha !” Photo: Jeremy Renner / Instagram
FaceApp allows users to “transform your face using Artificial Intelligence with just one tap!”
“Add a beautiful smile,” it says. “Get younger or older.”
FaceApp uses artificial intelligence to edit a picture in the photo gallery of your phone and transforms the image into someone double or triple your age. It allows the user to change their hair colour, allow you to see what you look like with a beard, swap genders and look older or younger.
However, the terms and conditions state that users agree to when they purchase the app, they “grant Face App a perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide” license to “use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute and display your content”.
Silicon Valley lawyer Elizabeth Potts Weinstein was so concerned that she decided to share a screenshot of the terms with a warning.
If you use #FaceApp you are giving them a license to use your photos, your name, your username, and your likeness for any purpose including commercial purposes (like on a billboard or internet ad) — see their Terms: https://t.co/e0sTgzowoN pic.twitter.com/XzYxRdXZ9q
— Elizabeth Potts Weinstein (@ElizabethPW) July 17, 2019
“It says that your data can be transferred to any location where they have a facility … which means Russia,” she wrote.
Now New York Senator Chuck Schumer is asking the FBI and FTC to look into FaceApp.
BIG: Share if you used #FaceApp:
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
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 18, 2019
UK-based Digitas strategist James Whatley said on Twitter, “You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable… royalty-free… license to use, adapt, publish, distribute your user content… in all media formats… when you post or otherwise share.”
“That means they can also use your real name, your username or “any likeness provided” in any format without notifying, much less paying, you. They can retain that material as long as they want, even after you delete the app, and you won’t be able to stop them. Even those who set their Apple iOS photo permissions to “never,” as Tech Crunch points out, are not protected against the terms.”
Security expert Ariel Hochstadt told Daily Mail that hackers, who are not infrequently agents of the Russian government, can log the websites visited and “the activities they perform in those websites”, though they might not know the identity of the person being tracked.
But when we also give them access to our phone’s camera, they can “secretly record” someone — who could be a targeted or prosecuted member of society, says Hochstadt, such as “a young gay person”. Now the hackers (and Russian government by proxy) can cross-reference your face and phone information with the websites you’re using.
Hochstadt continues, “They also know who this image is, with the huge database they created of Facebook accounts and faces, and the data they have on that person is both private and accurate to the name, city and other details found on Facebook.”
Even if hackers aren’t exactly working with the Russian government, says Hochstadt, “With so many breaches, they can get information and hack cameras that are out there, and be able to create a database of people all over the world, with information these people didn’t imagine is collected on them.”
Eventually, technology expert Steve Sammartino believes, your face will also be used to access even more critical private information, such as banking credentials.
“Your face is now a form of copyright where you need to be really careful who you give permission to access your biometric data,” he tells journalist Ben Fordham.
“If you start using that willy-nilly, in the future when we’re using our face to access things, like our money and credit cards, then what we’ve done is we’ve handed the keys to others.”
Face App issued a statement to 9to5Mac over the privacy concerns.
“We might store an uploaded photo in the cloud. The main reason for that is performance and traffic: we want to make sure that the user doesn’t upload the photo repeatedly for every edit operation. Most images are deleted from our servers within 48 hours from the upload date.
“FaceApp performs most of the photo processing in the cloud. We only upload a photo selected by a user for editing. We never transfer any other images from the phone to the cloud.
“Even though the core R&D team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia.”
Download at your own risk.