FaceAppSource: FaceApp

What you need to know

  • The FBI has said that FaceApp may be a potential counterintelligence threat.
  • According to reports, this is because of its links to Russia.
  • The revelation was a response to calls for an FBI investigation from US Senator Chuck Schumer.

A report suggests that the FBI believes FaceApp is a "potential counterintelligence threat" because of its links to Russia.

Previously, US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had called upon the FBI to investigate the app over his concerns regarding data protection. Now according to a report the FBI has responded stating:

The FBI considers any mobile application or similar product developed in Russia, such as FaceApp, to be a potential counterintelligence threat, based on the data the product collects, its privacy and terms of use policies, and the legal mechanisms available to the government of Russia that permit access to data within Russia's borders.

The report from Axios also states that the FBI believes Russia's own intelligence services "maintain robust cyber exploitation capabilites", and that the Russian Federal Security Service can remotely access all communications and servers on Russian networks without permission from ISPs.

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According to the report:

The FBI said it will coordinate for notifications and investigations, and will work with applicable task forces if the app is perceived as a threat to "elected officials, candidates, political campaigns or political parties."

In a statement following the FBI's response, Chuck Schumer said:

In light of the FBI's warning that FaceApp, and similar applications developed in Russia, poses a potential counterintelligence threat to the United States, I strongly urge all Americans to consider deleting apps like FaceApp immediately and proceed with extreme caution when downloading apps developed in hostile foreign countries."

FaceApp is the latest to come under fire from US lawmakers and commentators, who are increasingly raising awareness and concerns about privacy and foreign apps. Notably, TikTok has also come under scrutiny in recent weeks, Senator Josh Hawley going so far as introducing a bill seeking to prevent American companies from storing the data of US citizens on servers in China.