The photo-altering app, FaceApp, allows users to upload their photos to age forward, swap genders, make users appear younger and more. The app, created by Wireless Lab of St. Petersburg, Russia uploads more information than users may realize, according to the New York Times. Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted an image of a letter dated July 17, urging the FBI to investigate the app.
Schumer continued, “In practice, providing this level of access to a user’s data could mean that any photos taken with the application could be used publicly or privately in the future without the user’s consent. Furthermore, it is unclear how long FaceApp retains a user’s data or how a user may ensure their data is deleted after usage. These forms of ‘dark patterns,’ which manifest in opaque disclosures and broader user authorizations, can be misleading to consumers and may even constitute a deceptive trade practice. Thus I have serious concerns regarding both the protection of the data that is being aggregated as well as whether users are aware of who may have access to it.”
Schumer tweeted that the FBI and FTC must look into the national security and privacy risks now.
“Because millions of Americans have used it,” Schumer tweeted. “It’s owned by a Russia-based company and users are required to provide full, irrevocable access to their personal photos and data.”
According to the New York Times, a software engineer at Google, Ivan Rodriguez, felt the app was not concerning.
“I don’t understand where these ‘fears’ come from, other than the parent company being based in Russia,” he said in a Twitter exchange the New York Times reported. “I mean, I definitely don’t have the resources the F.B.I. or even the F.T.C. have, but so far I haven’t found anything that’s alarming or that shows this app trying to hide functionality that can be harmful.”