FaceApp Responds to Privacy Concerns Raised by Users

Terry Crews FaceApp
http://www.flickr.com/photos/154188529@N08/

FaceApp is the AI-powered self-editing app that has become viral in a short period. The Company was entangled in controversy recently. Now it has responded to the controversy. We will mention the full response of FaceApp at the end of the post.

FaceApp is a Russian startup. The App users raised two main issues regarding the app. The first one was that the app uploads the photos of people on the cloud without their consent. It doesn’t clarify the user that processing is going on their device. The second issue was that iOS appears to override settings when the user denies access to his/her camera. People reported that they could still select and upload a photo. This is strange because the user doesn’t allow access to their photos.

The second problem is an allowed behavior in iOS. It gives users the power to block the app from full camera access. However, users can still choose from individual photos if they wish. This isn’t any kind of conspiracy. However, Apple could do a better job of describing the permission.

On the first matter of cloud processing photos, FaceApp has confirmed that they use the cloud to perform most of the app’s functions, like age-accelerating and app’s beauty effects. The Company also explains that it claims only those photos, which the user has selected for editing. Many security tests have proved that the app doesn’t upload the user’s entire camera roll. The Company also encourages the users to use any network-sniffing tool on the internet to confirm this.

FaceApp states that it might store photos, which the users have uploaded on the cloud, for a short time, for “performance and traffic”. The Company also does it to ensure that the user hasn’t uploaded the same photo for another edit. The Company states, “We delete most images from our servers within 48 hours of upload.”

FaceApp also claims that it doesn’t transfer any data to Russia, even though its headquarters are based there. This suggests that the Company performs storage and processing from infrastructures outside Russia. The Founder of FaceApp, Yaroslav Goncharov has confirmed that it uses Google Cloud and AWS. The Company adds, “We don’t share any data with third-parties. So it’s impossible to go in the wrong hands.”

FaceApp also explains that users can request the Company to delete their data at any time. However, there isn’t a smooth way of doing this. The app asks the users to send delete requests through the mobile app, by going to “Settings – Support – Report a bug”. Then the user needs to type “privacy” in the subject line. The Company states that it is working to sort out a better method.

Here is the statement of FaceApp regarding this issue:

We have received many inquiries regarding our privacy policy. Therefore, we would like to clear some basic points:

  1. We do most of the photo processing through the cloud. We only use those photos, which the user selects. FaceApp also doesn’t transfer any other photos from the phone to the cloud.
  2. We might store an uploaded photo in the cloud. We do it only to ensure that the user isn’t using the same photo repeatedly. Our team quickly deletes most images from our servers.
  3. We totally accept the request from the users to delete all their available data. Currently, our team is quite busy, but we consider these requests our top priority. Although our method of sending requests is quite tedious, we are looking to come up with a better alternative.
  4. You will have access to all FaceApp features without logging in. Due to this feature, 90% of users don’t log in. Therefore, we don’t have any data to identify the person. You can also log in from the setting screen if you want to.
  5. We don’t transfer our data to Russia. We also don’t share your precious information with anyone.

A U.S. Senator has asked the FBI to investigate FaceApp. Let’s hope that FaceApp doesn’t have to pay heavy fines, like some tech giants.

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