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The Privacy Concerns of FaceApp App

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FaceApp app is the latest to go viral and also it has also created privacy concerns amongst the users. Read on to know the more about the privacy concerns of FaceApp…

FaceApp is currently the most downloaded free app on the Apple Store due to a large number of people downloading the app to ‘turn their old selfies grey’. Similar to the celebrities, if you have used the latest FaceApp app to spam your followers with the images of ‘how you may look in your old age’ — you have successfully been a part of the FaceApp followers that has gone viral from past few days.

The FaceApp app uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to let users turn themselves into their ‘old self’ version. The app is now number one in 121 countries on iOS App Store, despite being a very expensive app in its full version.

Past Concerns
The FaceApp app which was originally launched by a Russian start-up in 2017, has raised some privacy concerns as well with fears that user data was being sent to Russian servers and claims that it was able to access the user’s entire photo gallery on the phone. Some of these privacy concerns were addressed by FaceApp founder Yaroslav Goncharov who clarified the app’s privacy policies and said no data is transferred to Russia. But privacy woes or not, the app certainly has attracted a lot of users including celebrities across the world.

Latest Privacy Concerns
Well, the issue here is that the FaceApp trend is not that it has penetrated all social media platforms, but rather, the fact that it has gone viral with minimal scrutiny of its vaguely worded privacy policy guidelines. One of the major security concerns raised is that the AI app could use the content uploaded by users, which is mostly pictures in this case, for “commercial purposes” for people who agree to its terms and services. We click ‘I agree’ without understanding that our so called ‘explicit consent’ gives the app permission to use our likeness, name and username, for any purpose, without our knowledge and consent, even after we delete the app.

FaceApp’s terms and services ask for ‘perpetual’ ‘irrevocable’ royalty-free and worldwide license to use content, which means any photos uploaded to use any filter can be used by the company for promotional purposes anywhere in the world and the chances are the person may not even know. Especially since FaceApp don’t require users to log and most of the users do not login as per data by FaceApp, there is no way to relate which photo belongs to whom. In short, there is no way to identify a person. So this can be classified as anonymised data used for training machine learning algorithms, but of very limited use otherwise.

The Road Ahead
In the age of digital transformation, the privact concerns caused by FaceApp should be channelled towards a broader discussion on the information paradox currently existing between individuals and organisations. Organisations need to stop viewing ambiguous and opaque privacy policies as a get-out-of-jail-free card. On the contrary, a clear and concise privacy policy outlining the details related to processing activity in simple language can go a long way in gaining consumer trust.

The next time an ‘AI-based Selfie App’ goes viral, let’s take a step back and analyse how it makes use of user-provided data and information both over and under the hood, since if data is the new gold, we can easily say that we are in the midst of a gold rush.

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