FaceApp: Are security concerns around viral app founded? | #TheCube

Basil Zempilas run through the app

Camera Icon Basil Zempilas run through the app

The app has actually been around for a few years but only recently gotten attention from the internet at large. You also don't have to use your own photo - you can upload any photo, such as an Associated Press photo of Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim in 2018 (altered to make him look like he's coaching his 80th season in the year 2056).

FaceApp states in its privacy policy that they use "third-party analytics tools" which "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". No, you're not in some alternative universe where all of your pals are old men and women, it's just an ageing filter that everyone is using. So people could think that, by default, FaceApp works the same way-which it certainly does not.

Many app companies have wide-ranging terms of use to give them the option of monetizing the gathered data in the future, even if they don't yet know how they will, said Jennifer Whitson, associate editor of Surveillance & Society and an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo.

In its Terms & Conditions, writes New York Post, the app includes "they have the right to modify, reproduce and publish any of the images you process through its AI".

The app allows users to change their faces, making themselves appear older or younger. The app was originally created in St. Petersberg and after some research, it was deemed that by uploading photos to FaceApp, Russia may be getting access to your identity and personal information. FaceApp performs most of the photo processing in the cloud.

Users can also request the app wipe their information. The app is still available for to download for Android and iOS respectively from Google Play and Apple's App Store, but trying to use FaceApp from India now leads to error.

The Russian startup assured users only selected information and photos can be used outside the app in a statement today.

"We don't sell or share any user data with any third parties", said Yaroslav Goncharov, the Russia-based developer of the app. "We never transfer any other images", the statement added.

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". Social media, in particular, is often the recipient of hefty criticism concerning its lackadaisical approach to securing sensitive data but now it's the turn of recreational apps.

Had there been a disclaimer, privacy-conscious FaceApp users may have chosen not to edit any photos at all.

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