FaceApp – AI Face Editor-the app that can edit photos of people’s faces to show younger or older versions of themselves
He found that no such bulk uploading was going on – FaceApp was only taking the specific photos users decided to submit.
FaceApp also confirmed to the BBC that only the user-submitted photo is uploaded.
What about facial recognition?
Others have speculated that FaceApp may use data gathered from user photos to train facial recognition algorithms.
This can be done even after the photos themselves are deleted because measurements of features on a person’s face can be extracted and used for such purposes.
“No, we don’t use photos for facial recognition training,” the firm’s chief executive, Yaroslav Goncharov told BBC News. “Only for editing pictures.”
Is that it?
Not quite. Some question why FaceApp needs to upload photos at all when the app could in theory just process images locally on smartphones rather than send them to the cloud.
In FaceApp’s case, the server that stores user photos is located in the US. FaceApp itself is a Russian company with offices in St Petersburg.
Cyber-security researcher Jane Manchun Wong tweeted that this may simply give FaceApp a competitive advantage – it is harder for others developing similar apps to see how the algorithms work. Steven Murdoch, at University College London, agreed.
“It would be better for privacy to process the photos on the smartphone itself but it would be likely [to be] slower, use more battery power, and make it easier for the FaceApp technology to be stolen,” he told BBC News.
US lawyer Elizabeth Potts Weinstein argued the app’s terms and conditions suggested user photos could be used for commercial purposes, such as FaceApp’s own ads.
But Lance Ulanoff, editor-in-chief of tech site Lifewire, pointed out that Twitter’s terms, for example, contained a similar clause:
What else does FaceApp have to say?
Mr Goncharov shared a company statement that said FaceApp only uploads photos selected by users for editing. “We never transfer any other images,” the statement added.
“We might store an uploaded photo in the cloud.
“The main reason for that is performance and traffic: we want to make sure that the user doesn’t upload the photo repeatedly for every edit operation.
“Most images are deleted from our servers within 48 hours from the upload date.”
The statement said that while FaceApp accepts requests from users to have their data deleted, the company’s support team was currently “overloaded”.
FaceApp advises users to submit such requests through settings, support, “report a bug” and add “privacy” in the subject line.
User data was not transferred to Russia, the statement added.
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) told BBC News it was aware of stories raising concerns about FaceApp and that it would be considering them.