The FBI and FTC are being asked to investigate Russia-based FaceApp

What you need to know

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has called on the FBI and FTC to investigate Russia-based FaceApp.
  • FaceApp has insisted data is never transferred to Russia and most photos are deleted within 48 hours.
  • The DNC has also sent out a security alert warning staffers to avoid the app.

FaceApp has seen a surge in popularity recently for its ability to age your photos and let you see how time will take its toll. According to app analytics from Sensor Tower, FaceApp has been downloaded more than 12.7 million times since July 10.

However, that recent surge in popularity has also raised some red flags over what the Russia-based company does with the photos you upload. On July 17, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter calling on the FBI and FTC to investigate the app.

In the letter, Schumer writes, "I ask that the FBI assess whether the personal data uploaded by millions of Americans onto FaceApp may be finding its way into the hand of the Russian government, or entities with ties to the Russian government." He then states:

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 foreign governments.

In response, when speaking to TechCrunch, the makers of FaceApp have said that user data is never transferred to Russia, "Even though the core R&D team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia." It's also stated that most images are deleted from the servers within 48 hours of the upload date.

Besides calling for an investigation into FaceApp, the DNC has also sent out a security alert warning staff against using the app. In the alert, Bob Lord, the chief security officer of the DNC says:

This app allows users to perform different transformations on photos of people, such as aging the person in the picture. Unfortunately, this novelty is not without risk: FaceApp was developed by Russians.

Lord goes on to say, "It's not clear at this point what the privacy risks are, but what is clear is that the benefits of avoiding the app outweigh the risks."

The DNC knows all too well the risks of being attacked by Russian hackers. During the 2016 presidential campaign, both the DNC and Hillary Clinton were targeted, and it's clear they are taking cybersecurity more seriously now.

How to cancel a FaceApp subscription

Jason England