POLITICS

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Calls For FBI Investigation Into FaceApp

The New York Democrat sent a letter to the FBI and Federal Trade Commission calling for a review of a Russian company's photo app that's trending again.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on the FBI to investigate a Russian company’s photo app that’s once again rising in popularity.

In a letter Wednesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons, the New York Democrat expressed his concerns with the trending FaceApp. The app uses artificial intelligence to transfer users’ faces from photos into younger or older images of the person.

Schumer mentioned in his letter that users must provide FaceApp full access to their personal photos and data. FaceApp’s privacy policy also reveals that users give the app permission to use or publish content shared with the application without notifying the user, according to the letter.

“Given the growing popularity of FaceApp and these national security and privacy concerns, I ask that the FBI assess whether the personal data uploaded by millions of Americans onto FaceApp may be finding its way into the hands of the Russian government,” Schumer wrote. “If so, I would urge that steps be immediately taken by the FBI to mitigate the risk presented by the aggregation of this data. 

“Furthermore, I ask that the FTC consider whether there are adequate safeguards in place to prevent the privacy of Americans using this application, including government personnel and military service members, from being compromised and if not, that the public be made aware of the risks associated with the use of this application or others similar to it.”

Many popular apps collect user data using vague language in their terms and conditions, including Twitter and Facebook. But because FaceApp is developed in Russia, some speculate the app has the potential to help create scarily convincing fake profiles on social media using the photos people have taken on the app.

Earlier Wednesday, FaceApp founder Yaroslav Goncharov told HuffPost that the company does not “sell or share any user data with any third parties” and that the data is not transferred to Russia, “even though the core R&D team is located in Russia.”

This is the second time FaceApp has grown to viral popularity, the first being in 2017 when it drew controversy over filters that changed a person’s ethnicity.

CONVERSATIONS