The FaceApp Challenge: How do face recognition applications impact your privacy?

The FaceApp Challenge: How do face recognition applications impact your privacy?

How do you imagine yourself in 10, 20, or 30 years?  Or if you’re in your golden age, do you want to see a photo of a younger you? Or maybe you want to see yourself in different hair or skin color, or shorter hair, or even in an opposite gender?

The FaceApp

The internet got flooded with funny AI-modified selfies in the last few days. Many are playing around and joining the FaceApp challenge on social media using the FaceApp (number one app in the Photo & Video category in App Store in many countries). The app uses the AI and face recognition technology to produce surprisingly real selfies, and satisfy the demand brought by this viral challenge.

The app lets you see how you could look in many years from now, or how young you could be again. Some couples are having fun with the Face App gender swap, checking how their couple could look if the roles reversed. Some fashionistas are trying out new looks: becoming blond or brunette, adding a smile and retouching their best selfies. Some others are using photos of Hollywood stars and famous people to see how old they will look one day.

All of this is possible by exploiting human curiosity and using the new technologies of AI…

FaceApp Challenge | Facial recognition technology | AI technology | The FaceApp Challenge: What are the risks for your privacy and data? | FaceApp age | FaceApp gender swap | FaceApp opposite gender | FaceApp Hollywood filter | Face App | Le VPN

#FaceAppChallenge: Fun but Risky

The recognition of facial features is not something new today. Our cybersecurity and privacy experts at Le VPN have already spoken about the benefits and risks of these new technologies for Face Recognition in our blog as a part of our educational activities for internet users. It is true that its main mission of Face Recognition is noble and justified: the identification of criminals and the significant contribution to the work of police forces. But as with every technology, it can be good and bad, depending on who has access to it and why.  Unfortunately, public safety is not the only use of face recognition technology, as more and more businesses and institutions are adopting it (and not only the FaceApp).

Today, you can be identified in public places without your permission, or even worse, without notice. It is already the case for many airlines that use face recognition during boarding, or the Eurostar train between Paris and London, where the border controls are using Face recognition to let you through. Those of us encountering this technology for the first time can even feel themselves in a science fiction movie, so surreal it is to realize that your facial features are actually stored somewhere and could be used to identify you when you least expect it. And it’s only the beginning.

In the case of the viral FaceApp, we still have the choice to download it, use it and thus share our facial features, or NOT. Of course, your curiosity or the social pressure of the #FaceAppChallenge might prevail, and you might decide to have some fun and change your face, body, and eyes. But there are some crucial points to know and take into account before you choose to download the app and start playing.

The Risks of Face Recognition Apps

One of the main risks with apps is the collection of data. When you download any app to your smartphone, you should be very careful with the information you share with it, and even more with the app using your personally identifiable information and known for using face recognition technology. We are already very exposed on social media, where we are continually sharing too much information about ourselves and our activities.

When we share photos and tag their geographic location, we allow anyone to track our steps, or when we share with the world how much fun we are having on our vacation, we are intentionally welcome robbers to our house. We have already expensively spoken about social media security in our other articles, so let’s talk about the security risks of facial recognition apps.

Why using the FaceApp may be a considerable risk for your privacy?

  1. You are giving away for your photos, selfies and their AI-modified variations (called User Content), plus all the other data about you and your app usage to the FaceApp, and that is forever and free of charge! Why do they need them and what they do with them? We will probably never know.

“Any information or content that you voluntarily process with the Service, such as User Content, becomes available to the FaceApp anonymously.”

  1. Did you always dream of being the face of an advertising campaign? Well, in that case, it is your chance! Your photos and AI-empowered creations will be shared with the FaceApp partners, affiliates, and all the other third parties. Well, obviously under “reasonable” confidentiality terms…

“We may share User Content and your information (…) with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that FaceApp is part of, or that become part of that group (“Affiliates”)…. We also may share your information as well as information from tools like cookies, log files, and device identifiers and location data, with third-party organizations that help us provide the Service to you (“Service Providers”). Our Service Providers will be given access to your information as is reasonably necessary to provide the Service under reasonable confidentiality terms… We may remove parts of data that can identify you and share anonymized data with other parties. We may also combine your information with other information in a way that it is no longer associated with you and share that aggregated information.”

  1. The app is based in the United States, so outside of the EU, which means that it does not comply with the EUGDPR norms and data regulation, which protects the personal data of European users. They even explicitly say so in their Privacy Policy:

“If you are located in the European Union or other regions with laws governing data collection and use that may differ from U.S. law, please note that we may transfer information, including personal information, to a country and jurisdiction that does not have the same data protection laws as your jurisdiction. By registering for and using the Service you consent to the transfer of information to the U.S. or to any other country in which FaceApp, its Affiliates or Service Providers maintain facilities and the use and disclosure of information about you as described in this Privacy Policy.”

  1. Lastly, the app cannot guarantee the security of any information that you share with them and takes no responsibility for it. This actually means that your data can be shared with the world at any point, and you are the only one legally responsible for giving it away in the first place.

“FaceApp cannot ensure the security of any information you transmit to FaceApp or guarantee that information on the Service may not be accessed, disclosed, altered, or destroyed.”

Le VPN can protect your data and privacy, but NOBODY can protect you from yourself!

If you want to have some fun imagining a different YOU, you now know all the major risks associated with that, and nobody can protect you from those, not even the European Union.

If you decide not to fall in the trap of the #FaceAppChallenge, we applaud you! But, protecting your personal data doesn’t stop there.

Are you serious about the privacy of your data and your online activities, and concerned about the security of your internet connection and all the data that goes through it, especially when using public WiFi, or connecting from strict censorship locations? Then you need to think about downloading a trustworthy and reliable VPN app, like Le VPN, and use it without moderation!

What a VPN or virtual private network does for individuals like you and me is securing the internet connection between your device and the world wide web (including mobile apps and all data transmission), and thus guarding your online privacy and internet security at all times, as long as the app is ON.

Plus, Le VPN app helps avoid all geo-restrictions by connecting to 800+ locations in 120 countries (just pick the country where you want to appear virtually), so you can say good-bye to all censorship and content “not available in your country.”

Note that a privacy and security app like Le VPN does not store any of your personally identifiable information or online activities. All we need is your email (can be a burner email) in order to send you your access codes, and you can even pay for your Le VPN plan with Bitcoin for maximum anonymity.

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Comments (12)

  • tangkasgold

    Touche. Solid arguments. Keep up the goodd spirit.

  • Maria Baeza

    Faceapp is a trending application now. All faceapp users are enjoying their filters but nobody know that it’s risky.
    Everybody should read your blog. It’s very helpful article.
    I appreciate your blog. Thanks and keep sharing.

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