It’s the viral app that’s taken the world by storm by letting you add an extra 50 years to your face but a legal expert is now warning users to read the software’s fine print.
Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) set out by FaceApp make suing the firm virtually impossible and could also allow the companye to charge you without sending warning.
The details were revealed in an in-depth article by Mark Giancaspro, lecturer in law at the University of Adelaide, for The Conversation.
It comes amid privacy concerns raised in recent weeks over how images uploaded to the Russia company’s app may be used in the future.
FaceApp is a photo-morphing app that uses what it calls artificial intelligence and neural face transformations to make alterations to faces.
The app can use photos from your library or you can snap a photo within the app.
The free service uses artificial intelligence to edit a picture in your phone gallery and transforms the image into someone double or triple your age.
It can also change your hair colour, allow you to see what you look like with a beard and even look younger.
Dr Giancaspro points out that, as with all of the fine print we regularly sign but often neglect to read, we are agreeing to a legally binding contract when we sign up to FaceApp.
In the case of FaceApp’s T&Cs, perhaps the most worrying clause states that you will indemnify, defend, and hold harmless’ FaceApp and its ‘officers, directors, agents, partners and employees’ from ‘any loss, liability, claim, demand, damages, expenses or costs’ relating to your use of the app.
That means that, should an image of your face be used by the firm to advertise a product or service that causes you embarrassment or loss of reputation or business, for example, you cannot sue FaceApp.
Dr Giancaspro said: ‘Any playful app that spreads joy can be a good thing. It is crucial, however, that users know what they are signing up for, otherwise many of their legal rights will vanish and their legal exposure will be extraordinary.’
The rules also mean you agree to cover all legal fees for third-party claims against FaceApp arising from your use of the app, yet you surrender all control over the legal action.
This means users can’t sue FaceApp, and if anyone else tries to they will be picking up the bill.
They also state that users are only permitted to lodge small claims against the company or seek specific court orders, he says.
Users are otherwise required to resolve all legal disputes through confidential arbitration held in California.
That means that the value of any legal action you may decide to take against the firm will result in a very low payout if you are successful.
You can opt out of this provision, but you only have 30 days from registration to do so, meaning most of the app’s 100 million existing users are already too late.
Dr Giancaspro also points out that the document also gives FaceApp the right to alter its T&Cs at any time without directly notifying its users.
That includes the company suddenly imposing a usage charge.
That suggests people who use the app will have to continuously monitor the firm’s website for updates to their conditions of use.
This is not the first time in recent weeks that the app has found itself in hot water, particularly over privacy concerns.
Security experts have said that the Russian owners of FaceApp don’t have access to your camera roll but said the viral app ‘might store’ the image that you modified.
Cyber experts Checkpoint and various other research teams have ran a check on the app and said they couldn’t find any evidence that it was stealing user data, as had been claimed.
FaceApp also addressed the privacy concerns saying the main reason they store the uploaded photo in the cloud is for ‘performance and traffic’.
In the statement, they said that while the app’s ‘core R&D team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia’.
Their statement came after security fears were raised after some experts warned that it could access, store and use images from your gallery, without permission.