If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve seen friends sharing photos put through an aging filter from FaceApp, an Android and iOS app made by a St. Petersburg, Russia-based company that has surged to the top of download charts.
In its terms of service, users grant FaceApp “a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable, sub-licensable license to use, reproduce … create derivative works from … and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you.”‘
You also may be contributing to a face recognition database.
Said Jason Hill, lead cybersecurity researcher at CyberInt Technologies, spoke with USA Today: “[There] is no immediate evidence to suggest that FaceApp is performing any nefarious task.” But it could be compiling info, Hill added. “For example, collating photos associated with a user could, where present, allow image metadata, such as the location that a picture was taken, to be mapped and correlated with access logs, gathered when the user accesses the service, that will associate details of their IP address, ISP and the device (including browser, operating system and hardware).”
Other privacy experts are not so concerned.
Forbes reports: “A security researcher who goes by the pseudonym Elliot Alderson (real name Baptiste Robert) downloaded the app and checked where it was sending users’ faces. The French cyber expert found FaceApp only took submitted photos – those that you want the software to transform – back up to a company server. And where’s that server based? America, not Russia. … And, as noted by Alderson, the app also uses third party code, and so will reach out to their servers, but again these are based in the U.S. and Australia. Of course, given the developer company is based in St. Petersburg, the faces will be viewed and processed in Russia. It’s unclear how much access FaceApp employees have to those images…”