Is FaceApp dangerous? Not exactly

Is FaceApp dangerous? Not exactly

We read the Privacy Policy and the Terms of Service so you can understand what the app collects and how the company may use that information

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Everyone — celebrities in particular — seems to be turning the clock ahead 30 to 40 years this week showcasing how they'll look with wrinkles and gray hair through the FaceApp download. Available for Apple and Android devices, the app is one that tunnels into your photos and then puts filters on that can age you instantly.

Quickly, because of who owns and developed the app, people starting sending the alarm that the data users upload — their images — are now out of their control.

Here's the basic things to know about FaceApp so you can decide whether to try it yourself, or leave this one off your phone.

A screenshot of men and women, some of them artificially aged, through the FaceApp programThere are hundreds of thousands of positive ratings for FaceApp in the App Store FaceApp

The app is free so why shouldn't I just try it?

You just answered part of your question yourself. When something is free, you can trust that a company is still finding a way to make money off your involvement. Let's use Facebook as a perfect example. You're not charged a single penny, pence or euro for using Facebook — but Facebook makes a lot of money off your presence on the app. Its business model is collecting users, mining their data, and selling that. It charges advertisers to send posts your way, for example.

FaceApp's currency is your data as well — which in this case are your photos. How will it monetize those images? That's not publicly known. But a free app still has expenses, including paying to store all the images people are up-locating to their servers. They will find a way to use that data to make money.

The famous adage in technology is if something is free, you're not the customer, you are the product.

Why is Congress so concerned?

Rep. Chuck Schumer sent a letter to the FBI and FTC on Wednesday, July 17 about his concerns with the app, particularly around the fact that FaceApp can "use or publish content shared with application, including their username or even their real name, without notifying them or providing compensation."

Schumer is also worried, given the growing use of facial recognition software, of users knowing how this kind of data will be put to use.

The image of a robotic face with lines drawn across and data points against a blue backgroundAs adoption of facial recognition software grows, cities and lawmakers are concerned about how images collecting could be usediStock

What else is FaceApp collecting besides this photo of me that looks old?

Reading through FaceApp's own privacy policy (yes, we know it's long) the company says it's also collecting web pages that people visit, but this is just a smidgeon of what the company collects.

However, if you've used Facebook — you're already allowing access to a ton of your personal data. Still from FaceApp's privacy policy we've gleaned that it collects the following:

  • Location data
  • Cookie data (what web pages you've visited) from your browser
  • Apps your downloading
  • Your IP address
  • Browser type
  • Photos you post from the app

Who will, or more aptly, can FaceApp share the data with that it's collected?

FaceApp will share information that can include "cookies, log files, and device identifiers and location data with third-parties," as it mentions in its privacy policy. And while it states it "may remove parts of data that can identify you and share anonymized data with other parties," it doesn't say it will. The key word there? "May."

The company also states that it may share your information "in response to a legal request (like a search warrant, court order or subpoena) if we have a good faith belief that the law requires us to do so."

But only requests from U.S. authorities right?

Uh, no. FaceApp says it could be other authorities as well. "This may include responding to legal requests from jurisdictions outside of the United States where we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law in that jurisdiction, affects users in that jurisdiction, and is consistent with internationally recognized standards," it writes.

A woman wearing glasses staring a three computer with people's faces visible on the screensHow you data may be used once uploaded to FaceApp is actually in the hands of the companyiStock

Does FaceApp own my photo?

No, it does not. But it does have "a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, full-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, user name or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known, or later developed, without compensation to you."

So, no they don't own it. But you basically give them permission by using the app to use it in any way they see fit — even in some way that hasn't been invented yet — and also license it to others to use the same.

Should I delete the app?

Once you've uploaded an image to FaceApp, it's on the company's server. You can delete the app from your device — but you're not going to get that photo or data from the company. At least not that way, and maybe not ever.

FaceApp states in its Terms of Use: "User Content removed from the Services may continue to be stored by FaceApp, including, without limitation, in order to comply with certain legal obligations.

While some companies, like Amazon and Google, do make it possible for you to delete data — like, say recordings of you yelling at Alexa to turn off (no comment) — this is not possible with FaceApp without going through some gymnastics, as per a recent interview with The Washington Post.

I'm really not happy about any of this. Is there someone I can complain to?

Well, yes. FaceApp has a Designated Agent, Yaroslav Goncharov, and his address in Russia and phone number can be found in the Copyright Complaints section of the Terms of Use.

Biometrics Coming To Secure IoT -

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