Chuck Schumer, the U.S. Senate minority leader, urged FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to carry out a national security and privacy investigation into FaceApp, a phone app developed in Russia, as Reuters reported.
“The viral smartphone application, which has seen a new surge of popularity due to a filter that ages photos of users’ faces, requires “full and irrevocable access to their personal photos and data,” which could pose “national security and privacy risks for millions of U.S. citizens,” Schumer said in his letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and FTC Chairman Joe Simons,” the news agency reads.
The Democratic National Committee also warned the party’s 2020 presidential candidates against using the app.
“In the email, seen by Reuters and first reported by CNN, DNC security chief Bob Lord also urged Democratic presidential campaigns to delete the app immediately if they or their staff had already used it,” the message reads.
It should be noted that there is no evidence that FaceApp provides user data to the Government of Russia.
“Democrats have invested heavily in bolstering party cyber defenses after U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Russia used hacking as part of an effort to boost support for President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign. Russia has repeatedly denied those claims,” Reuters reports.
FaceApp was developed by Wireless Lab, a company based in St. Petersburg. It has over 80 million active users. Yaroslav Goncharov, its CEO, worked at Yandex, known as “Russia’s Google”.
“The app, which was launched in 2017, made headlines in 2018 when it removed its ‘ethnicity filters’ after users condemned them as racist,” the message reads.
"99% of users don't log in; therefore, we don't have access to any data that could identify a person," the company said in a statement.