Kiplinger's Personal Finance
FaceApp Image Credit: Kiplinger's Personal Finance
FaceApp Image Credit: Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Solving The App Privacy Problem

Revelations about FaceApp have rekindled debate over how to protect your data.

Rivan Stinson

Florian Schaub is an assistant professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan.

FaceApp, the viral app that shows you what you will look like as you age, has sparked the most recent debate about online privacy. Should people be worried about the data the app collects?

I think what started to make people look deeper was that the app’s developers are Russian and the app’s privacy policy made broad claims about how they might reuse photos. It could mean they’re creating some kind of legal room for themselves to share information with other companies and use it for other purposes. Or it could simply mean that they are trying to limit their liabilities. Still, it is a red flag.

How can app privacy policies be improved?

For the longest time, when downloading Google’s Android apps, you would get a permission screen that you would have to “Accept” or you couldn’t download the app. Once you agreed, the app could access your photos and contacts and so forth. That’s not a good choice. I think to help people have better control of their privacy, they should be able to unbundle these decisions [making them specific to what they’re doing at a particular moment]. For example, over the past couple of years, Google and Apple have switched to permission dialog boxes that say things such as “This app wants to access your location: Allow or den


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