U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer Calls FBI On Face App

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer Calls FBI On Face App

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer has called on the FBI to review a Russian company's smartphone app that transforms faces into younger and older images of the person. The New York Democrat said in a letter on Wednesday to the FBI and Federal Trade Commission that he's concerned FaceApp could pose 'national security and privacy risks for millions of U.S. citizens.'

Schumer is asking the agencies to assess the situation and says he has 'serious concerns' about how long users' data is stored and if it is deleted after usage.


He says it would be 'deeply troubling' if people are giving sensitive personal information to a hostile foreign power. Especially one actively engaged in cyber hostilities against the United States.' Many popular apps collect user data, but concerns have circulated about FaceApp, which is developed in Russia by Wireless Lab. FaceApp has gained renewed popularity in recent days. Celebrities and public figures shared photos of themselves looking 50 years older thanks to an editing tool from the software developer.

Experts have warned of security concerns with FaceApp, made in 2017. It puts a filter over your face, as it has permanent access to your photos.

Concerns are centred on a questionable clause in the app, which can access, store and use images from your camera roll, without your permission.

In light of the concerns, Chuck Schumer wrote in his letter: 'FaceApp’s location in Russia raises questions regarding how and when the company provides access to the data of U.S. citizens to third parties, including potentially foreign governments.

'Given the growing popularity of FaceApp and these national security and privacy concerns, I ask that the FBI assess whether the personal data uploaded by millions of Americans onto FaceApp maybe finding its way into the hands of the Russian Government, or entities with ties to the Russian Government.'

Read Schumer's Tweet Below:


He also claimed it remained unclear how long FaceApp retains a user's data or deletes said data after usage. The free app uses artificial intelligence to edit a picture in your phone gallery. The it transforms the image into someone double or triple your age. It can also change hair colour, and allow you to see what you look like with a beard. It can also swap genders and even look younger. FaceApp is currently one of the most downloaded apps for both iOS and Android. And #faceappchallenge posts have taken over social media. The terms and conditions of the app essentially gives FaceApp access to use, modify, adapt and publish any images that you offer up in exchange for its AI.

FaceApp's Privacy Policy

FaceApp's privacy policy also says it is using data from the app to serve targeted ads and develop new products. It says it does not sell data to third party apps. But it lists many exceptions including one that allows it to share data after removing information that identifies users.

Russia-owned FaceApp has had surges of viral popularity before. FaceApp can use your name, username 'or any likeness provided' in any media format. This is without compensation and you won't be able to take it down or complain about it, reports claim. It also will not compensate you for this material. And it will retain the image long after you've deleted the app.

Twitter users have also pointed to the app's Russian origins — Wireless Lab, a company based in St. Petersburg owns FaceApp. People raised fears on social media that on iPhones, FaceApp can see and upload all your photos. In a statement cited by media outlets, FaceApp has denied selling or sharing user data with third parties.

'99% of users don't log in. Therefore, we don't have access to any data that could identify a person'. The company said this in a statement cited by TechCrunch. It added that they delete most images from their servers within 48 hours of the upload.

Parents should take extra care with their kids and their online presence. Many apps like the face app pose a threat to their privacy and it's always best to consult before letting them use any.

Also read: How to choose the right tech toy for your kids

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