Why the alarm bells are ringing over FaceApp

Politicians and data protection experts have warned against FaceApp. Users risk their data being sold for advertising or other purposes. The Russian FaceApp deploys AI to make faces look much younger or older. Commentators agree with the criticism - and add plenty more of their own.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Faces becoming a commodity

The panic over the app is missing the point, censures the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“Face recognition technology is being used to build the next level of the surveillance society. FaceApp's collection of face photographs is just one of many. ... Surveillance cameras outside universities or in cafés are goldmines for public research into biometric databases, making the faces of millions of unsuspecting citizens available for testing - for the software that facilitates target recognition in fighter drones for example. ... Facebook, Google and Microsoft also have collections of hundreds of millions of faces at their disposal. ... The FaceApp issues should make people to wake up to the fact that their faces, the reflection of their individuality, are merely a commodity for others. ”

Le Figaro (FR) /

A breach of EU regulations

FaceApp's privacy policy flouts EU regulations, warns Le Figaro:

“In its conditions of use, FaceApp stipulates that when an image is shared, the user's property rights are transferred. ... FaceApp data protection regulations do not conform with current EU law. They stipulate that the collected data may be redirected outside of Europe, where FaceApp has infrastructures at its disposal and where data are subject to the regulations that apply there. Yet the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) exists precisely to guarantee that European citizens, no matter which country their data end up in, always have the same level of protection for their data.”

Protagon.gr (GR) /

We don't want to know real facts about ageing

FaceApp has shown us something important, observes columnist Lila Stabouloglou in Protagon:

“The app reveals the full scale of the narcissism of our time. And it shows just how frivolously we deal with old age. We have jumped on this app with such enthusiasm in order to see ourselves age - superficially. But wrinkles will be the least of our problems when we get old. Unfortunately ageing causes much worse problems than deep lines in the skin. ... Would we also make the effort to observe the physical and psychological decline that affects the sensibilities of older people rather than just their looks? Would an app like that go viral? I think not.”

Verslo žinios (LT) /

Who gives the keys to their house to strangers?

Data security expert Giedrius Meškauskas criticises our irresponsible attitude to our own data in Verslo žinios:

“It is deeply unpleasant that a state which very probably does not have our best interests at heart, and in which data protection is non-existent, has access to FaceApp data. ... But let's stop and think about this for a moment: did the state take the data from us or did we make them freely available? Take a look at the list of apps on your telephone. In how many cases do you know who produced them? ... We teach our children to avoid contact with strangers. But on the Internet we even give strangers the keys to our digital homes.”

Keskisuomalainen (FI) /

EU must protect private sphere

FaceApp is causing growing concerns about what happens to private data online, confirms Keskisuomalainen:

“In the digital world, protection of the individual is weak, even if the General Data Protection Regulation has improved things somewhat. It is common in the digital world for users to forego their privacy in return for using free apps. ... There is not usually any alternative. Perhaps in the future we will see apps on the market which do not use the data of their users. There are some people who don't want to be tracked so refuse to use the services. The EU must do more to defend the private sphere in the digital world.”

Krytyka Polityczna (PL) /

A strange outcry

Krytyka Polityczna cannot understand why the success of FaceApp is making people suddenly so worried about their online data:

“Their data were and still are public, and FaceApp will not change anything there. People should be a lot more worried about what so-called cookies do or Facebook itself, which uses codes saved in our photos to track our social network and the tenyearchallenge hashtag to train its face-recognition algorithms in aging processes. ... That should be an important lesson. And we should think three times before uploading photographs of ourselves that contain personal information - whether it's on a Russian app or any other app.”