If you use FaceApp, you’re giving up your digital privacy

You’ve probably seen those fascinating images from FaceApp that use AI to scan that person’s face then artificially age it.  Celebrities from Mario Lopez to the Jonas Brothers have recently indulged and the results have been amusing, for sure.  Enough people have been entranced by the glimpse into the mirror-of-the-future that on July 17, 2019 the United States Democratic National Committee sent a security alert to its staffers mandating they not use the popular app because of its data privacy policies.  With the edict for his staff, Bob Lord (the DNC’s Chief Security Officer, formerly of Yahoo) made a bold move signaling forward-thinking cybersecurity strategy, and legislators followed suit within hours by calling for an FBI investigation into the Russian firm that owns FaceApp.

FaceApp destroys your digital privacy

Of course FaceApp claimed in its interview with TechCrunch that its app doesn’t store user data in Russia. But its R&D division is in Russia.  And its business is calibrating AI to learn faces (so FaceApp says).  Think about it: what research and development on facial recognition doesn’t include the actual faces?  It’s a bit of a mystery.  It seems like even if you believe what they say, it’s hard to believe what they say.

Here’s the truth: it’s not really about FaceApp, even if you granted them perpetual access to your photos (assuming it was even you that uploaded your own photo to FaceApp). It’s about every time the upload button on any app—and the quick-fix temptation behind it—erases our own future-in-the-mirror.  It’s about a life made up of breadcrumb trails of scannable data, and how good AI will be in the future at analyzing masses of data and location points across time.

Every selfie tagged at a restaurant from a vulnerable app could be leaching your future whereabouts in ways you can’t yet predict because the technology is still adapting. Imagine if the Gestapo had had Facebook at its disposal (or even Tinder). Each moment of vanity that is bigger than our biometric data is a choice worth re-thinking, and it’s worth protecting a future we can’t yet imagine.

We named our company Rubica because surrendering your data—particularly against your will—is like crossing the Rubicon.  You can’t undo it.  In our daily lives we sometimes snap careless photos, share them carelessly, then wish powerlessly to call back those photos as relationships drift.

Do you really want to share the rights to your data in perpetuity with a stranger in another country?  You don’t know what they might do with it later.  Or worse, if the FSB decides to requisition FaceApp’s intellectual property for some reason, which the Russian government could feasibly do since they are a Russian business operating in Russia.

Think twice about using FaceApp and other apps or companies that do questionable things with your personal data.

At Rubica we believe in your digital bill of rights. Your right to be forgotten, your right to own what people know and find and distribute about you.  How they find you, or can’t find you.  From the beginning our corporate policy has always been never to sell your data.  Our security stack is 100% located in the U.S., and ISO-27001-certified so you don’t have to ask questions about who’s doing what with your data.  We’ve got your back.