The chart-topping Russian-made FaceApp, which allows users to see how they will look as they age, is in the eye of a political storm in the U.S., with one senator urging an FBI investigation into its “national security and privacy risks”.
A celebrity favourite, the app deploys artificial intelligence to modify users’ photos, adding wrinkles or subtracting years from their faces.
On Wednesday, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sounded the alarm over FaceApp’s Russian developer, calling for the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to “look into the national security & privacy risks” connected to the application.
“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,” the New York senator said in a letter to the FBI.
Currently the most downloaded free app on Google Play with more than 100 million users, FaceApp was launched two years ago and went viral after its latest editing tool, an ageing filter, sparked a flood of celebrity selfies.
FaceApp’s Russian backers have not responded to Mr. Schumer’s letter.
But its CEO told the Washington Post that Russian authorities did not have any access to any user data.Yaroslav Goncharov also told the newspaper that most photos are deleted from its servers within 48 hours and said the app did not use the pictures for any other purpose.