FaceApp might be under investigation

Thanks to a fresh aging filter, FaceApp — which utilizes neural networks to drastically edit your photos — is skyrocketing to social media popularity, but Democrats are not on board with the fun.

Instead, the Democratic National Committee allegedly issued an alert warning 2020 Democratic presidential campaigns against using the app due to worries about the Russian developers of the app, according to a CNN report, and Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has formally requested the FBI and FTC to perform a FaceApp national security check, according to NBC News.

“This app allows users to perform different transformations on photos of people, such as aging the person in the picture. Unfortunately, this novelty is not without risk: FaceApp was developed by Russians,” warned an alert from Bob Lord (Chief Security Officer of the DNC) received by CNN.

“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 Sen. Schumer’s letter.

While it is true that FaceApp uploads images to its servers for the application to be able to apply the effects, the company only uploads the specific images that are being modified, not the entire camera rolls of users. The company’s CEO behind FaceApp, Yaroslav Goncharov, also told The Verge back in 2017 (when the app had hit viral fame) that while the company sometimes stores pictures for performance purposes for a short time, most pictures will be deleted shortly afterwards; the company also told TechCrunch that “most pictures will be deleted from our servers within 48 hours of the upload date.”

Furthermore, in response to recent concerns about privacy, FaceApp said that “We don’t sell or share any user data with any third parties,” and that “even though the core R&D team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia.“ However, the company’s privacy policy does not appear to be GDPR-compliant.

Democrats are being overly cautious here, it might seem, by banning FaceApp simply because the developers are based in Russian, but they may have reason to be cautious: after being hacked just weeks before the 2016 election, the organization appears to be looking for security.

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