FaceApp could face FBI, FTC investigations over security concerns

Sen. Chuck Schumer and the Democratic National Committee say the fact that Russia is involved is a problem.

Shelby Brown Editor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
  • She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Shelby Brown
2 min read

FaceApp uses AI to change your hair, your gender, your age and more. 


The viral hit FaceApp is facing scrutiny from US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The senator has asked the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to open a national security and privacy investigation into the Russian-developed AI photo-editing app.

In a public letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and FTC Chairman Joe Simons, Schumer said he has "serious concerns regarding both the protection of the data that is being aggregated as well as whether users are aware of who may have access to it." 

Schumer asked the FBI to assess whether any data uploaded to FaceApp could find its way into the hands of the Russian government. He also asked the FTC to examine whether there are "adequate safeguards" in place to protect the privacy of the users. 

The FTC confirmed it received Schumer's letter but declined to comment further. The FBI also declined to comment.

The Democratic National Committee sent a security alert to 2020 presidential campaigns on Wednesday urging them not to use the app, according to CNN. 

"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," said the security alert from Bob Lord, the DNC's chief security officer.

Released in 2017, FaceApp has seen a new surge of popularity with the #AgeChallenge. The app lets you take a selfie, or choose an existing photo, and apply an AI filter that makes you look old. The app's maker responded to privacy concerns over how it handles users' photos in a statement Wednesday denying any mishandling of user data.  

FaceApp didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Originally published July 18 at 6:23 a.m. PT.
Update, at 6:57 a.m. PT: Adds response from FTC and news about the DNC security alert. 10:58 a.m: Adds response from the FBI. 

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