Is This Trendy New Profile Pic App Sending Your Data to Russia?
A new trendy, viral photo editing app may have ties with Russia, according to a new report. Either way, you'll want to read the app's fine print before downloading.
The new app called NewProfilePic lets users create a free digital avatar that is a cross between a cartoon and sketch. It uses facial recognition from the user's photograph to create the rendering. However, the app is allegedly sending users' personal data to Moscow, according to one cybersecurity expert.
The app was developed by Informe Laboratories, Inc. and copyrighted by Linerock Investments. According to The Daily Mail, the company is supposedly located in an apartment complex that overlooks the Moscow River, just down the road from Russia's Ministry of Defense — just three miles away from the Red Square. The company also reportedly has a shareholder based in Panama City, as well as a director based in Russia.
"This app is likely a way of capturing people's faces in high resolution and I would question any app wanting this amount of data, especially one which is largely unheard of and based in another country," Global Cybersecurity Advisor at ESET Internet Security Jake Moore told the outlet.
In addition, Snopes.com notes they were unable to substantiate the claims made against the app, which they said are "largely without merit."
Speaking to Snopes.com, a spokesperson for the app said that its team of developers are from all over the world, including Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. "The NewProfilePic app does not store users’ accounts or any personal data. …This app is safe for people to use it," they added.
The NewProfilePic app currently has an excellent 4.8-star rating on the Google Play store and it has been installed more than 1 million times.
NewProfilePic isn't the only app under Linerock Investments, which also boasts Christmas Photo Frames & Cards, which lets users create a holiday greeting using their photos. The company also hosts the Photo Collada collage maker. Both apps have been downloaded more than 1 million times.
It also isn't the first app to allegedly send photos to Russia.
In 2017, FaceApp was created which used AI to edit photos. The Saint Petersburg-based company was flagged by numerous security experts concerning the amount of personal data being sent through the app.