By the time you read this you would already have seen some of your friends posting their pictures showing older version of themselves. You might be thinking how did they do that? Well there is an app named “FaceApp” which is available on both iOS and Android. That app has this “old age” filter.

What that app basically does is that takes your pic and then uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) to predict how would you look when old. Seems interesting technology right? Well yes it is, AI is now being used in many sectors of computing and has shown promising results, especially in Image processing tasks.

Under the hood, FaceApp uses some Deep learning (Deep learning is a subfield of AI) to predict and create images. Besides Old age filter they also offer other filter and other types of face editing features (in images, not literally). Results generated by FaceApp are quite realistic.

As, AI is highly compute intensive task, these type of editing cannot be done on your phone, so it has to be done on their servers, and for that you have to upload it to their servers and that is a huge privacy concern.

Current Criticism

FaceApp is a Russian based company and recently is being criticised by security professionals due to their “Terms of Use”. They have mentioned in their terms of use following:

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. When you post or otherwise share User Content on or through our Services, you understand that your User Content and any associated information (such as your [username], location or profile photo) will be visible to the public

FaceApp terms of use, Section 5

Previously company also faced criticism when it featured “ethnicity filters” depicting “White”, “Black”, “Asian”, and “Indian”. The filters were immediately removed from the app. That was too racist.

What could happen?

As you can see above, as per company’s terms, it can use your pic wherever they want. Some of you might thing what worse can happen?

Thing is, once you agree to terms, they can use the pic however they want without your permission.

  • How do you feel if next day you wake up and see yourself on an ad and you didn’t even know it or got paid for it? (This is highly unlikely scenario but still it is a possibility).
  • This data can also be used for future-proof facial recognition software, so even old, it will be able to recognize you.

Above are just in general issues can happen.. Worst is yet to come..

Section 15 of their terms states that you cannot take any legal action against the company other than some small claims and that too only upto certain limits. This is not it..

Section 10 states that you will “indemnify, defend, and hold harmless” FaceApp and its “officers, directors, agents, partners and employees” from “any loss, liability, claim, demand, damages, expenses or costs” relating to your use of the app. In non-legal terms, you cannot sue them in any way even if your pic damages your reputation. Also if you use it to embarrass someone and that party sues FaceApp then you will have to pay the bill.

Section 17 states that Company can change their terms any time, they “may” notify users.

Hitting Accept in an instant, you are accepting all these..

So you already used the app? And you want undo that? Well there is kind of a good news for you (at least for recent users). In terms it is mentioned that if you want to opt out from these binding contact (even after hitting accept), then you have to send a mail to FaceApp’s Russia office with your full name and your intent to opt out of binding arbitration within 30 days of accepting terms. But…

By opting out of binding arbitration, you are agreeing to resolve Disputes in accordance with Section 16.

16. Governing Law and Venue
These Terms and your access to and use of our Services will be governed by and construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of California, without regard to conflict of law rules or principles (whether of California or any other jurisdiction) that would cause the application of the laws of any other jurisdiction. Any dispute between the parties that is not subject to arbitration or cannot be heard in small claims court will be resolved in the state or federal courts of California and the United States, respectively, sitting in Santa Clara County, California.

This is exactly whats written in FaceApp’s terms page.

Wireless Lab OOO
16 Avtovskaya 401
Saint-Petersburg, 198096, Russia

Address where you need to send written notification to opt out.

How to be safe from these things?

For that simple solution is to stay away from these “challenges”. Or if you can’t resist to try, then DO read Privacy policies and Terms of use before hitting “Accept”.

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