Over 150 million people worldwide recently downloaded the very popular FaceApp after Hollywood celebrities started posting images of their edited faces in a social media challenge using the hashtag, #OldAgeChallenge. The challenge was simply to age your face using FaceApp and then post the image on twitter, facebook, or instagram using the hashtag.

FaceApp uses artificial intelligence technology to automatically generate highly realistic transformations of faces in photographs. It can generate an older or younger version of yourself as seen in the Challenge or even transform your face to make it change gender or look like a Hollywood star. Needless to say, every Joe and Jane Soap with a smartphone is too curious not to find out how they will look as an oldie which has meant mass popularity of the Challenge.

Amazing right…? Well, behind the craze the inventor of FaceApp may be collecting hundreds of millions of faces (i.e. your data), which is quite scary considering how many of us use face recognition software whether to make payments or unlock a smartphone. By carefully reading the Terms of Use agreement of FaceApp…who am I kidding? No one carefully reads user agreements when downloading the next best mobile app. However, let’s say you did, which I know you didn’t, you would have read the following: “You grant FaceApp perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide…license to use, modify, publish…your user content…”

FaceApp’s overly aggressive t’s and c’s basically means that its creators can store your photos (not just the photo uploaded but ALL your photos on your device especially on IOS devices) indefinitely, edit them, use them in promotional materials and even sell them without compensation. We all know that in that data is power and FaceApp may very well take full advantage thereof. Also, Section 15 of the terms prevents you from taking any legal action again them and any legal disputes can only be resolved in confidential arbitration. An opt-out provision is available although users only have 30 days to use it which means most are already too late given that again, most wouldn’t have read that anyway.

In an interview with Forbes FaceApp’s creator, Yaroslav Goncharov, promised more transparency with an updated privacy policy and said the terms and policy will “likely” remove references to the rights that the company claimed over people's images. Goncharov added that he believes FaceApp collects far less data than so many other apps.

Be that as it may, users need to consider and understand the rights FaceApp’s t’s and c’s gives the company and while yes, it is your face, do you even own the copyright of your own face?

Ruan Dickinson
Trade Mark Department