It seems like good fun….. age your face and show people, right? But did you covertly have your privacy violated by maybe sending your face to the Russian government?
This is what everyone is talking about with regard to FaceApp, a program that takes photos of people and “ages” them using artificial intelligence. Soon after it shot to the top of the Apple and Google store charts last week, privacy advocates began waving warning flags about the Russian-made app’s vague legalese. Word spread quickly that the app might be a disinformation campaign, or secretly downloading your entire photo album.
A Washington Post reporter got some answers by running his own forensic analysis and talking to the CEO of the company that made the app. But the bigger lesson was how much appmakers and the stores run by Apple and Google leave all of us flying blind when it comes to privacy.
This reporter raised similar questions a few weeks ago, when he ran an experiment to find out what my iPhone did while he slept at night. he found apps sending his personal information to all sorts of tracking companies he’d never heard of.
So what about FaceApp?
Looking under the hood of FaceApp with the tools from my iPhone test, he found it sharing information about his phone with Facebook and Google AdMob, which likely help it place ads and check the performance of its ads. The most unsettling part was how much data FaceApp was sending to its own servers, after which … who knows what happens. It’s not just your own face that FaceApp might gobble up — if you age a friend or family member, their face gets uploaded, too.
In an email exchange, FaceApp’s CEO Yaroslav Goncharov tried to clarify some of that with the reporter.
Here are five questions he posed that are basics we ought to know about any app or service that wants something as personal as our faces.
1. What data do they take?
2. How long do they hold on my data?
3) What are they doing with my data?
4. Who has access to my data?
5. How can I delete my data?
Here is what Congressman Chuck Schumer wrote on TWITTER
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