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Privacy Tip #219 – FBI Considers FaceApp a Counterintelligence Threat

For those of you who have downloaded the face editing app FaceApp, please note that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has classified FaceApp as a counterintelligence threat because of its Russian origins.

According to the FBI, “[T]he FBI considers any mobile application or similar product developed in Russia, such as FaceApp, to be a potential counterintelligence threat, based on the data the product collects, its privacy and terms of use policies, and the legal mechanisms available to the Government of Russia that permit access to data within Russia’s borders.”

When the FBI considers an app a security threat to the U.S., we all should. Downloading apps, in general, is risky, but downloading apps based in foreign countries that are trying to obtain information about U.S. citizens – and in fact are obtaining information from unwitting U.S. citizens – is potentially putting us in danger.

Now is the time to perform app hygiene. Check the apps on your phone to determine whether you are using them or not. If you aren’t using them, delete them. There is no reason to continue to allow them to collect your information if you are not using them and getting a benefit from them. If you are using them and can’t live without them, do some due diligence to determine the background of the app, read the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use to know what they are collecting and using about you, and delete the app if your gut tells you something’s not right. If you have downloaded FaceApp, that would be the first one to delete.

Copyright © 2020 Robinson & Cole LLP. All rights reserved.


About this Author

Linn F. Freedman, Robinson Cole Law Firm, Cybersecurity and Litigation Law Attorney, Providence

Linn Freedman practices in data privacy and security law, cybersecurity, and complex litigation. She provides guidance on data privacy and cybersecurity compliance to a full range of public and private clients across all industries, such as construction, education, health care, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, utilities and critical infrastructure, marine, and charitable organizations. Linn is a member of the firm's Business Litigation Group and chairs its Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team. She is also a member of the Financial Services Cyber-Compliance Team (CyFi ...