Senate leader Chuck Schumer is calling on the FBI and Federal Trade Commission to investigate the popular smartphone application FaceApp, quoting privacy concerns and fears the data could be shared with the Russian government.
FaceApp, which was released in 2017, went viral this week with celebrities and other public personalities all worldwide sharing photos of themselves edited by the app. The app’s makers say it makes use of artificial intelligence technology to edit the images. On Thursday morning, it was the top app on the U.S. Apple App Store.
The company, which is based in St. Petersburg, doesn’t have known ties to the Russian government and the corporate denies sharing or selling data with third parties, however the Democratic National Committee sent an alert to presidential campaigns on Wednesday warning them not to use the app in case the company is unscrupulously sharing its data.
“FaceApp’s location in Russia raises questions regarding how and when the company gives access to the data of U.S. residents to third parties, including foreign governments,” Schumer wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons Wednesday night.
Responding to these issues from some security experts, the makers instructed TechCrunch, “Although the core R&D staff is located in Russia, the user data shouldn’t be transferred to Russia.”
“Most images are deleted from our servers in 48 hours from the uploaded date,” the makers also told the outlet.
On Wednesday, the DNC sent a security alert to 2020 presidential campaigns Wednesday afternoon warning them not to use FaceApp. Russian hackers attacked each the party and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016, and since then, the DNC has invested in cybersecurity.