By Ben Feuerherd
Sen. Chuck Schumer on Wednesday asked the director of the FBI to probe whether data shared on the popular FaceApp software is ending up in the hands of the Russian government or third-party companies with ties to the Kremlin.
Schumer penned a letter to Director Christopher Wray, stating that the app “could pose national security and privacy risks for millions of U.S. citizens.”
The app, which is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Russia, uses artificial intelligence to distort a user’s appearance — making them look older, younger or a different gender.
Photos generated by the app spread like wildfire on social media in recent weeks, with celebrities such as Drake, the Jonas Brothers and Kevin Hart posting images created by the company.
The privacy guidelines of the app have drawn scrutiny by security experts because they state the software company has the rights to use or publish data shared with the app, including a person’s name and username.
In his letter, Schumer wrote FaceApp’s headquarters in St. Petersburg is of particular concern.
Its location “raises questions regarding how and when the company provides access to the data of U.S. citizens to third parties, including potentially foreign governments,” Schumer wrote.
“I ask that the FBI assess whether the personal data uploaded by millions of Americans onto FaceApp may be finding its way into the hands of the Russian government, or entities with ties to the Russian government,” he added.
Earlier on Wednesday, the DNC sent a security alert to warn 2020 presidential campaigns to not use the software, CNN reported.
“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,” an alert from DNC’s Chief Security Officer Bob Lord read.