Friday, October 18, 2019
Trending FaceApp is keeping your data as you use the age transformation

Trending FaceApp is keeping your data as you use the age transformation

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FaceApp is the most popular free app on Google Play and Apple’s App Store thanks to an age filter that makes people in photos look much older. But while countless photos of aged celebrities and casual FaceApp users have been shared online in the past week, there are mounting concerns with how FaceApp handles user data.

FaceApp first became popular in 2017; the app uses artificial intelligence to alter people’s faces with a variety of filters. Photos added to FaceApp are uploaded to a server for processing before being sent back to the user.

Understanding FaceApp’s policy on paper

FaceApp’s terms of service give the company license to use photos and other information uploaded by users for commercial purposes, including their names, likenesses, and voices. The terms of service also say that FaceApp may continue to store user data after it’s deleted from the app. The company said the data could be retained to comply with “certain legal obligations,” but there is no limitation on how long the data can be kept.

Furthermore, FaceApp’s privacy policy says that all information collected by the app can be stored and transferred to whichever countries FaceApp and its affiliates operate from. This means user photos and app data can be stored in Russia, the country where the app’s development team is based. TechCrunch reported that FaceApp is using servers owned by Google and Amazon in the US.

FaceApp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

FaceApp issued a statement to address privacy concerns

FaceApp provided TechCrunch with an itemized statement to clarify its policy amid the privacy concerns. Though the terms of service suggest that data can still be transferred to the Russian development team, the company says user data remains on the server-side. FaceApp says photos stored on the server are kept to make the editing process more efficient for its users and that the photos are usually deleted within two days.

The company said it also accepted user requests to remove all personal data from their servers. However, FaceApp said the support team was backlogged with those requests. FaceApp also says 99% of users choose not to log in, so they don’t have much in the way of identifying information.

So far, security experts have not detected any unusual practices with the current version of FaceApp, but as with all apps, users should be mindful of their lack of control when sharing photos and other personal data.

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