The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned any Russian mobile app could be a potential intelligence threat, citing popular photo editing tool FaceApp as an example, Reuters reported.
FaceApp offers users the ability to amend the age, gender and expressions in a person’s photograph and swiftly became a hit after its launch in 2017, with more than 63 million downloads by July 2019, Sensor Tower data showed.
The FBI issued its warning after US senator Chuck Schumer addressed concerns regarding the app and asked for a national security review.
It stated Russia’s intelligence services maintained “robust cyber exploitation capabilities” and the nation’s Federal Security Service (FSB) was able to “remotely access all communications and servers on Russian networks without making a request” to ISPs.
The FBI added it would open an investigation if it found US officials, and political candidates or parties to be “targets of foreign influence operations involving FaceApp”.
FaceApp publicly said it uploaded consumer photos to cloud servers in the US, Singapore, Republic of Ireland and Australia, and removed most of the photos 48 hours after they’ve been submitted, the FBI stated.
Reuters reported FaceApp denied claims it sold or shared data with third parties.
Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov told the news agency Russia’s government does not believe it is possible to stop free market competition.
In October, senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton urged the US National Counterterrorism Centre to investigate social media app TikTok, developed by Chinese developer ByteDance, along with other China-owned content platforms operating in the US.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back