FaceApp Updates Privacy Policy Amid FBI's Concerns On The App's Data-sharing Practices

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FaceApp has updated its privacy policy amid concerns raised by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the app's data-sharing practices. Read full details.

Written By Tanmay Patange | Mumbai | Updated On:
FaceApp

FaceApp, a photo-editing app that went viral a few months ago, has updated its privacy policy amid concerns raised by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the app's data-sharing practices. The FBI recently responded to Senator Chuck Schumer's letter dated July 17, 2019. In its letter, the FBI termed apps like FaceApp a 'potential counterintelligence threat' from Russia, explicitly citing the language of FaceApp's terms of service and end-user license agreement.

READ | FBI slams viral app FaceApp, calls it 'counterintelligence threat' from Russia

In a brief email statement to Republic World, FaceApp founder Yaroslav Goncharov has cleared the air on FaceApp's data-sharing practices and said that new privacy policy is effective December 03, 2019. Goncharov maintains that FaceApp uses Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services to process and edit photos edited through the app, which temporarily uploads pictures to the cloud for editing.

"Photographs are temporarily cached on the cloud servers during the editing process, and encrypted using a key stored locally on the user’s device," Goncharov told Republic World. "Photographs remain in the cloud for a limited period of 24-48 hours after users have last edited the photograph, and are then deleted along with editing data associated with the photograph."

'Potential counterintelligence threat'

Although there is no evidence that FaceApp sends users data to Russia, the FBI said that Russia's ability to access communications directly via internet service providers makes any app built there risky.

"The FBI considers any mobile application or similar product developed in Russia, such as FaceApp, to be a potential counterintelligence threat, based on the data the product collects, its privacy and terms of use policies, and the legal mechanisms available to the Government of Russia that permit access to data within Russia's borders," the FBI said in the letter.

Meanwhile, FaceApp chief tells Republic World that the updated privacy policy is a result of a months-long effort to offer a more precise explanation of the app's privacy practices. Goncharov also said that drafting future-proofing privacy policies is a standard practice among emerging companies because it allows them room to develop their business models without having to update their privacy policies constantly.

"In light of the attention that FaceApp received, however, we undertook an effort several months ago to revise our privacy policy to describe only our current privacy practices," Goncharov said.

FaceApp is an AI-enabled photo-editing app that offers age filter to make users virtually look older.

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