FBI and FTC Must Investigate FaceApp’s Ties to Russia, Chuck Schumer Says

Senate minority leader says he has “serious concerns” over the app’s use of pictures and data

Chuck Schumer China
Office of Sen. Schumer

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday is calling for the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate FaceApp, the popular app that lets users age themselves with one of several filters, over its use of user photos and data.

Schumer, in a letter to both the FTC and FBI that was first obtained by NBC News, said he’s especially concerned with FaceApp’s developer being based in St. Petersburg.

“In particular, FaceApp’s location in Russia raises questions regarding how and when the company provides access to the data of U.S. citizens to third parties, including potentially foreign governments.”

The FTC and FBI did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

FaceApp has sparked a phenomenon in the last week, with celebrities from Drake to Cardi B using the app to show their followers what they’ll look like when they’re old and gray. The app’s popularity has rocketed it to the top of Apple’s free apps chart, with aged FaceApp posts littering Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in recent days. At the same time, it’s raised questions over how FaceApp will use its pictures and data moving forward.

The app’s terms of service page appears to give Wireless Lab, its developer, carte blanche to do whatever it wants with the pictures users upload, including a “perpetual” license to “reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, [and] create derivative works” without compensation.

“In practice, providing this level of access to a user’s data could mean that any photos taken with the application could be used publicly or privately in the future without a user’s consent,” Schumer said.

He added: Similar terms of service “can be misleading to consumers and may even constitute a deceptive trade practice. Thus, I have 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.”

On Wednesday, FaceApp responded to several lingering questions in a statement to TechCrunch , saying it does not transfer user data to Russia and that “most images are deleted from our servers within 48 hours.”

FaceApp did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on if it plans to monetize the pictures its users have uploaded. The company had said it doesn’t “sell or share any user data with any third parties.”

In its statement to TechCrunch, FaceApp added that it only uploads the pictures users choose and does not “transfer any other images from the phone to the cloud.”