Chuck Schumer, the leading Democratic senator and Senate Minority Leader, called on the U.S. FBI and FTC – the Federal Trade Commission that protects American consumers – to launch an investigation into Faceapp, the controversial app which uses AI to age user photos.
The senator asked for an investigation into potential “dark patterns” of data misuse, including “opaque disclosures and broader user authorizations.”
Schumer also raised the specter of whether U.S. citizens’ data will be sent and stored and potentially misused in Russia, asking whether “the full and irrevocable access to personal photos and data,” represents “a national security and privacy risk for millions of U.S. citizens—FaceApp’s location in Russia raises questions regarding how and when the company provides access to the data of U.S. citizens to third parties, including potentially foreign governments.”
Also on Wednesday, CNN reported that the Democratic National Committee sent alerts to its 2020 presidential candidates warning them against joining the hordes of people using FaceApp to make themselves appear decades older on social media.
“Unfortunately, this novelty is not without risk: FaceApp was developed by Russians,” the DNC’s chief security officer, Bob Lord, wrote. “It’s not clear at this point what the privacy risks are, but what is clear is that the benefits of avoiding the app outweigh the risks.”
Lord also reportedly advised anyone who had downloaded the app to delete it immediately.
In an email interview with the Washington Post, the company’s chief executive, Yaroslav Goncharov, said the app was not using faces for anything other what the app is there to do, and that most photos are deleted from servers within 48 hours of being uploaded.
Goncharov also said FaceApp doesn’t “sell or share any user data with any third parties,” and that while their engineers are based in Russia, data generated in the US is not transferred there.
Asked if Russian authorities have access to US user photos, he replied, “No.”