FaceApp: Security concerns over popular App that lets you age yourself


FaceApp: Security concerns over popular App that lets you age yourself
A photo of Citizen TV News Anchor Jeff Koinange edited using FaceApp. PHOTO| COURTESY

In Summary

  • Most social media users including celebrities have been seen using the app and marveling at how they would look many years to come.
  • As the frenzy continues, serious security concerns are now emerging amid claims that once you install the app on your phone, it uploads all photos in your gallery to servers in Russia where the app was developed.
  • Meanwhile, FaceApp further says even though its core research and development team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia.

By now you have most-likely heard of if not used FaceApp; a photo-altering mobile application that offers you a glimpse into how you could look younger or much older.

The excitement has however, been on the age filter which allows users to modify photographs of themselves to what they could look like decades in the future.

Most social media users including celebrities have been seen using the app and marveling at how they would look many years to come.

As the frenzy continues, serious security concerns are now emerging amid claims that once you install the app on your phone, it uploads all photos in your gallery to servers in Russia where the app was developed.

It is also being alleged that FaceApp can effectively do what it wants with your photos.

This is after people went through the app’s terms of service and realised that once installed, 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.”

The company, however denies these claims

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the company said only the photo selected for editing gets uploaded to the app’s cloud.

“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,” reads the statement.

They further claim that the uploaded photo is automatically deleted from the servers after 48 hours.

“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,” adds FaceApp.

Even so, US Senator Chuck Schumer, has written to the F.B.I. and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the app, citing “serious concerns” about security, data retention and transparency, the New York Times reports.

“It would be deeply troubling if the sensitive personal information of U.S. citizens was provided to a hostile foreign power actively engaged in cyber hostilities against the United States,” reads the letter in part.

Meanwhile, FaceApp further says even though its core research and development team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia.

FaceApp’s founder, Yaroslav Goncharov told TechCrunch that processing of photos uploaded on the app is performed on servers operated by Amazon and Google.

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Story By Benjamin Muriuki
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