WASHINGTON D.C. (KPTV) – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on the FBI to conduct a federal national security and privacy investigation into FaceApp, a cell phone application that’s headquartered in Russia.
The concerns surfaced as the app exploded in popularity.
It’s a fun way to see how you might look in the future, but cyber security experts say beware of what you might be giving up with privacy when you use programs like FaceApp.
You simply put in a picture of yourself and are able to choose from a number of filters, that generate all kinds of different looks for yourself.
It can show a picture of you when you’re older, or change your gender. It can even add facial hair and other markings like tattoos.
Even celebrities got in on the fun. The Portland Trail Blazers shared their pictures and Seahawks players did as well.
But what’s really happening when you put your picture into the program?
“The pictures that you are taking and processing, that’s not happening on the phone itself, it’s being sent to a set of servers where that information’s being manipulated and processed and then the picture comes back to you,” said PKI Solutions President Mark Cooper.
Cooper runs PKI Solutions, which is a cyber security company.
He says when you send that picture, you might not realize all of the information that goes along with it, like GPS location and even the type of device you’re using.
He says many times these programs are for free and that should set off your radar.
“You’re giving them the ability to use your picture in marketing,” Cooper said. “Or they may even be using it for other types of commercial so that should be in the terms of service but not everybody reads through there.”
Not only does it give a company rights to your picture, but there’s now what’s called “deep fakes.”
“These deep fakes have taken a very small snippet of someone’s video or even photo likenesses and can now manipulate them to a point where it’s very difficult to tell if it’s an authentic video, if it’s what they actually said,” Cooper said.
And with FaceApp, a Russian-based company, many experts are saying that raises even more security concerns.
“Historically there was always the idea of coercing a confession out of an alleged conspirator or an alleged spy,” Cooper said. “Because information’s been shared by an individual through a face app or some other application that’s already available to another country to manipulate with machinery and be able to create their own confession without ever actually coercing that out of someone.”
Cooper says it’s important to think about what information you’re providing to any kind of app.
Also ask yourself is there any personal information or family members in a picture that you might not want out there publicly. And really think about why you’re using the app.
Cooper also suggests doing research on the company.
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