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New privacy concerns over FaceApp, tech expert says personal information is at risk

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LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The internet sensation called FaceApp is all over social media for days but it’s also raising some privacy concerns.

With just one tap, celebrities, normal people, and even the Good Morning Las Vegas news team were eager to see how they would look if they were older.

FaceApp also transforms user’s pictures to look young or to a different gender.

LATEST: Sen. Chuck Schumer calls for investigation into viral FaceApp

The free mobile app uses a type of artificial intelligence to transform people’s face.

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Meteorologist Justin Bruce
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13 Action News does want to clarify the morning team was not aware of the privacy concerns until later that day.

Like everyone else, they checked out the app because it had been trending on social media for days.

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Tech analyst Rob Enderle says a Russian company owns FaceApp.

He says as of now they are only able to use the picture users provided for the age transformation.

“The issue with this is, it’s a Russian owned application and it grants a lot of permissions,” Enderle says.

Enderle told 13 Action News that the sneak peek of the “wrinkly you” is not worth the download, nonetheless losing privacy.

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DNC tells campaigns not to use FaceApp ‘developed by Russians’

“The permissions you agreed to are overly broad. They indicate they can pull your location, contact information, they can pull other stuff off your phone you may not want them to have,” Enderle says.

Since users accept the terms and conditions, Enderle says it “opens up potential exposures.”

In a worst-case scenario, Enderle says someone’s information can be sold to another third party app or steal personal information.

“They can execute phishing attacks on people you know, they would know who you know. They can execute phishing attacks against you because they’ll know a great deal of you,” Enderle says.

FaceApp answered some privacy questions, here is the statement in full:

We are receiving a lot of inquiries regarding our privacy policy and therefore, would like to provide a few points that explain the basics:

1. FaceApp performs most of the photo processing in the cloud. We only upload a photo selected by a user for editing. We never transfer any other images from the phone to the cloud.

2. We might store an uploaded photo in the cloud. The main reason for that is performance and traffic: we want to make sure that the user doesn’t upload the photo repeatedly for every edit operation. Most images are deleted from our servers within 48 hours from the upload date.

3. We accept requests from users for removing all their data from our servers. Our support team is currently overloaded, but these requests have our priority. For the fastest processing, we recommend sending the requests from the FaceApp mobile app using “Settings->Support->Report a bug” with the word “privacy” in the subject line. We are working on the better UI for that.

4. All FaceApp features are available without logging in, and you can log in only from the settings screen. As a result, 99% of users don’t log in; therefore, we don’t have access to any data that could identify a person.

5. We don’t sell or share any user data with any third parties.

6. Even though the core R&D team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia.

FaceApp responded to privacy concerns but it did not explain or address the part of its terms of service that has caused most concern, in which users are asked to agree to give up the rights to any images they edit with the app.



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Tech News

Uber Stock Suffers Greatly From Company’s Hazy ‘Vision’

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Every viable business creates a win-win situation. Employees get a sustainable income. Customers get value. Shareholders get profits. Uber (NYSE:) doesn’t do any of that.

Uber Stock Is Barreling Toward Worthlessness Without a Turnaround Plan

Employees aren’t making sustainable income and they’re not treated like employees. Shareholders aren’t seeing any profits, even at scale. Customers have been seeing value only because their rides are subsidized by shareholders.

Uber went public in May 2019 because it had to. Private equity and venture funding had grown tired of the pretense that it would work. They wanted out. Since then, the stock is down almost 33%.

If you bought UBER stock it’s because I couldn’t convince you not to. I warned you in , in August and . You didn’t listen.

Can you believe me now?

Son’s Lack of Vision

Uber is a product of SoftBank Group (OTCMKTS:) CEO Masayoshi Son. The idea behind his Vision Fund was to disrupt huge industries, using software and , and to have a dominant position in the resulting companies.

The fund has . Paytm, the Indian payments company, looks like a winner. Kabbage, another fintech player, may be a winner. Fanatics may do OK.

But most are like Uber. Slack (NYSE:) has been a loser on public markets. WeWork, as I said over the summer, .

Son went too big, too fast on a lot of these deals. He put in more money than many of these companies could use. He convinced founders like WeWork’s Adam Neumann (and Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick) they could do no wrong. SoftBank’s CEO became like Jeffrey Cordova in The Band Wagon, producing pretentious versions of Faust when he could have been making nice little musicals.

Son, in short, let founders run when he should have used a short leash, and a quick hook.

What Tech Can’t Do

Technology can disintermediate industries. When there’s a high cost in making something happen, technology can drop that cost to zero. It’s in transaction costs that disruptive technology earns its way.

But there isn’t enough money in taxis to make that work, even when the business scales. Uber lost $1.2 billion during the most recent quarter, on adjusted revenue of . That’s a 30% gain in revenue, but the losses were 18% higher than the previous year, when they came in at $986 million.

In order to achieve those third quarter results CEO Dara Khosrowshahi bypassed normal employment checks to , which put them in danger. It also treated the people doing its work like hot garbage. In other words, it squeezed the people on both sides of every transaction, as hard as it could, and still didn’t make any money.

The promise of Uber was it would eliminate the driver. But that was always a canard. The technology was stolen from Alphabet’s (NASDAQ:, NASDAQ:GOOGL) , by a man named Anthony Levandowski. And it still doesn’t work.

The Bottom Line on Uber Stock

Uber is the perfect business analogy for our time.

It claimed to be profiting from the benefits of technology, but it was always about disintermediating law, not industry. Drivers were told they were qualified to be taxi drivers, and doubtless many were. Passengers were told technology could give them safe rides at a bargain price, and doubtless many got them. Investors were told that Uber stock could create a dominant position quickly, then squeeze all sides of the business for big profits.

Which was the greatest fool? I’d argue it was those who invested in the Vision Fund. Son believed his own rhetoric. The Saudis bought his reality distortion field. Son has a second Vision Fund and .

We shall see.

 is a financial and technology journalist. He is the author of the historical mystery romance The Reluctant Detective Travels in Time available now at the Amazon Kindle store. Write him at  or follow him on Twitter at @danablankenhorn. As of this writing he owned no shares in companies mentioned in this story.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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