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FaceApp and privacy concerns

19 July 2019

Whether it’s for convenience or for fun, mobile apps that use artificial intelligence (or ‘AI’) are one of the latest trends in technology these days. Several apps now make it possible for you to send short messages by voice recognition instead of typing, while other apps even allow you to use virtual reality to superimpose fictional characters in real life settings.

FaceApp is one of the latest AI trends spreading virally. The popular app allows you to make realistic images of yourself and choose your age, gender and mood to transform your face with the click of a button and see what you’ll look like in your old age. It’s been taken up across a range of social platforms, with even celebrities getting on board!  

It might seem like harmless fun, but like any app, you might be giving the developer permissions to use your personal information even after you’ve stopped using the app. For FaceApp you grant the developer access to use your photos, your name, your username and your likeness for any purpose including advertising. You’re also giving permission for the app to access your data in any worldwide location where they have a facility. Policies around how your data is stored, transmitted and who it can be accessed by, will differ from country to country. This means your personal information may be at greater risk of hacking or being stolen for identity theft in some countries more than others. 

How can I protect myself?

Where you download apps from and how you use them plays a critical role in keeping your mobile phone secure.

  • Only use legitimate stores like Apple’s App Store or Google Play for Android to download apps. 
  • Review and manage permissions for each app you download. On an iOS device go to 'Settings > Privacy'. On an Android device go to 'Application Manager' and follow the prompts.
  • If the permissions required by the app seem excessive compared with the activities you’ll be using the app for, consider whether you want to continue using the app.
  • Read the fine print about how an app will protect your personal data—some apps collect information such as your location, contacts and other sensitive details like credentials. At the end of the day, if you are not comfortable with how your data is protected, don’t use the app!
  • Uninstall apps when you no longer need them.

More information

Read more about online apps and protecting your mobiles and tablets. If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft or your identity has been compromised, you can contact IDCARE, Australia and New Zealand’s national identity support service, by heading to their website: https://www.idcare.org/