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Boasting 80 million users, FaceApp raises privacy, security concerns

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — From young to wrinkled in an instant.

Tens of millions of people, including celebrities like Carrie Underwood, have used FaceApp to see what they may look like, fast-forwarding decades into the future.

The viral app uses artificial intelligence to alter photos but users may be giving up more than they realize.

Buried in some fine print of FaceApp’s terms, the company says, “You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you.”

“It’s probably one of the most egregious ones I’ve ever seen,” information security expert Nick Tella told Call 12 for Action. “Even if you delete the app, whatever data they were able to access during your use, whatever period of time that was, essentially is out of your control because you agreed to those terms and conditions.”

Tella said it’s OK to download and use apps but cautioned people to be informed by reading all the terms and conditions.

“As consumers and users, we have to be conscious of what data we’re giving up,” Tella said. “Nothing is for free.”

“If you’re consciously giving up that information, then that’s on you,” he added.

FaceApp was created in 2017 and is based in Russia.

According to CBS News, the company said the data it collects is not transferred to Russia, adding that most images are deleted from its servers within 48 hours.

On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to the FBI and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking for an investigation into whether the app poses a national security risk.

“We have to know more about what the heck is going on here,” Schumer said.

The Democratic National Committee warned presidential campaigns to avoid FaceApp for security reasons.

According to its website, FaceApp has more than 80 million users.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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