Updated Jul 18, 2019

DNC warns 2020 campaigns against using FaceApp

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Democratic National Committee warned 2020 presidential campaigns that they should not use the viral facial-altering FaceApp because it was developed in Russia, CNN reports.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Ina Fried: Lots of apps have access to your photos. However, since FaceApp is not based in the U.S., it could be harder to track what is eventually done with the images and harder to potentially sue later for misuse. And anything Russia-related raises additional alarm bells given that country’s efforts to interfere with U.S. elections.

“This novelty is not without risk: FaceApp was developed by Russians. It’s not clear at this point what the privacy risks are, but what is clear is that the benefits of avoiding the app outweigh the risks. ... If you or any of your staff have already used the app, we recommend that they delete the app immediately.”
— DNC security chief Bob Lord's alert to 2020 campaigns

To be clear: FaceApp's founder and chief executive Yaroslav Goncharov told TechCrunch that the app's research-and-development team is based in Russia, but none of its user data is actually transferred into the country, the Washington Post reports. Goncharov said “most images” are deleted from FaceApp's servers within 48 hours, per the Post.

The impact: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Wednesday evening for the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate FaceApp's national security and privacy risks. He emphasized that the app is "owned by a Russia-based company."

Go deeper: For hacked campaigns, 2020 might as well be 2016

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Face-aging app rejuvenates old privacy questions

Screenshot of FaceApp on the Google Play store

A viral photo-filter app that lets people see older versions of themselves is highlighting concerns about handing personal information to overseas-developed apps, as well as any app that has vague privacy policies.

What's new: FaceApp, which has gone viral before, has re-emerged as the most popular iPhone app as people flock to post their digitally aged selves on social media. The app, owned by Russia's Wireless Lab, has risen to the top of Apple's App Store and #FaceAppChallenge has exploded on social media.

Go deeperArrowJul 18, 2019

New rules on paying for campaign cybersecurity

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It just got easier for cybersecurity toolmakers to offer campaigns help — but only by a little.

The big picture: Cybersecurity firms have flocked to provide free services to state election authorities, and some want to help protect political campaigns, too. But those efforts have been in legal limbo thanks to the complexities of election finance law.

Go deeperArrowJul 18, 2019

After Mueller warns of election interference, GOP blocks security bills

Former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In the 24 hours since former special counsel Robert Mueller warned of future election interference in his congressional testimony, Senate Republicans have blocked a collection of election security bills and a cybersecurity measure.

The latest: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday blocked Democrats from pushing forward a House-passed bill to authorize $775 million in state funding over the next 2 years to bolster voting system security, CNN reports.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jul 25, 2019