mobile phone - appsFaceApp topped the app download charts again this week, boosted by the popularity of its new ageing filter which allows people to see how they will look when they’re a few decades older.

However, concerns have been raised about how the app handles personal data – in particular, what access it has to user’s photos and how it makes use of them.

As reported by the Guardian:

These concerns have been heightened by growing awareness of online privacy issues in recent years and the fact that the developer is based in Russia, where many high-profile online misinformation campaigns have been based, in addition to a loosely-phrased privacy policy.

 

In the US, senior Democrat Chuck Schumer has urged the FBI to investigate, saying FaceApp could pose “national security and privacy risks for millions of US citizens”, according to a letter seen by Associated Press. He said it would be “deeply troubling” if sensitive personal information was provided “to a hostile foreign power actively engaged in cyber hostilities against the United States”.

 

The FaceApp CEO, Yaroslav Goncharov, said only a single picture specifically chosen by the user would be uploaded from a phone and the app did not harvest a user’s entire photo library, a claim backed by security researchers.

You can read the full report from the Guardian here: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jul/17/faceapp-denies-storing-users-photographs-without-permission

Despite the attempt at reassurance from Goncharov, there are still reasons to be worried about FaceApp. Many apps are still harvesting user data; La Liga was recently fined $280,000 under GDPR for using its mobile app to spy on users and try to stop piracy.

And with FaceApp having been developed in Russia, which as the Guardian stated, has been where “many high-profile online misinformation campaigns have been based”, there’s even more reason to be concerned.

If you’re uncertain about your own organisation’s obligations under GDPR, Activa Consulting are here to help. Contact Us today to find out how we can improve your compliance!