Unless you've been living under a rock for the last week, you've probably seen celebrities and friends ageing themselves using the mobile application FaceApp, which is on the Apple App Store and Google Play. The app uses artificial intelligence to transform you into an older version of yourself, or even make you more attractive.
But experts are now raising concerns over the app, which is based in Russia, after experts dived into the application's terms and conditions. And if you're anything like most people, you probably agreed to them without reading them in their entirety.
James Whatley works for Digitas, "a global marketing and technology agency that transforms businesses for the digital age," based in the United Kingdom. Whatley took to Twitter this morning to share a screenshot of an extract from FaceApp's terms of service page that could be concerning for some users.
The terms of service gives FaceApp access to use, modify, adapt and publish any images you upload. It continues to read:
"You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable... royalty-free... license to use, adapt, publish, distribute your user content... in all media formats... when you post or otherwise share."
Essentially, using the application gives FaceApp permission to use your name, username "or any likeness provided" in any media format without compensation.
TechCrunch is also reporting that the application is able to access your camera roll even if you have the application's photos access set to "never" in iOS. Though this is allowed in Apple's API, which allows developers to let a user pick one single photo from a system dialog to let the app work on.
TechCrunch also highlighted the fact that FaceApp uploads images to the cloud for processing, and does not process them locally. This could leave the images prone to interception.
The application's Russian origins have also raised some red flags given the Russian government's interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.
Ariel Hochstadt, a security expert from the vpnMentor blog and an ex-Gmail marketing manager for Google, told the Daily Mail:
"Hackers many time are able to record the websites that people visit, and the activities they perform in those websites, but they don't always know who are those users."
"Imagine now they used the phone's camera to secretly record a young gay person, that visits gay sites, but didn't yet go public with that, and they connect his face with the websites he is using."
"They also know who this image is, with the huge DB they created of FB accounts and faces, and the data they have on that person is both private and accurate to the name, city and other details found on FB."
"With so many breaches, they can get information and hack cameras that are out there, and be able to create a database of people all over the world, with information these people didn't imagine is collected on them."
Futurist and Business Technology expert Steve Sammartino told journalist Ben Fordham that people should be careful using the app:
"Your face is now a form of copyright where you need to be really careful who you give permission to access your biometric data."
"If you start using that willy nilly, in the future when we're using our face to access things, like our money and credit cards, then what we've done is we've handed the keys to others."