FACEAPP

Human the weakest link in privacy rights

Many of us do not pay attention to the terms and conditions of use of these apps.

In Summary

• With many of the apps, we give access to our location information, access to our picture galleries, contacts lists, social media and other private information.

• Reading the terms of the apps reveals that often, by agreeing to the terms, we allow irrevocable rights to numerous actions including use, modification, analysis and publication of our information

FaceApp, the app that uses Artificial Intelligence to edit your pictures, has made a comeback amid a flurry of statements from different quarters on the risks to privacy its use poses.

I downloaded FaceApp for research and discovered that the terms of use and privacy policy are not presented to the user up front. However, I was asked to allow the app access to my entire gallery. The app essentially ‘makes’ you allow it to access and use your information even before you know what it intends to do with the information it collects. In my quest to find answers, I did not go past this point and immediately uninstalled the app. I did, however, find the terms of service elsewhere.

While its terms of service are in my opinion very invasive and give the app too many rights, it is just one of thousands of apps that collect all manner of information from users who seem to care very little about what information they agree to share. And users should be concerned about all the other apps they use just as much as they are with FaceApp.

Many of us do not pay attention to the terms and conditions of use of these apps. We hastily click on ‘I agree’ to the terms of service, click ‘allow’ when the apps ask for permissions to access different functions of our phones and happily proceed to enjoy the free services.

We are constantly talking about privacy and protection of our personal information. However, when it comes down to making simple decisions such as allowing a developer of a service that is not even essential access to intimate details of our lives held in our phones, we allow all manner of access.

We choose what appears in the moment to be convenience, the ability to connect and communicate in the trendiest apps and our fear of missing out, especially where social media is concerned, over our privacy. To many people, privacy is the protection of information from other people, the reason many of us have security codes for our phones. Yet, the same vigilance is not applied to the same content ‘being observed’ my machines, Artificial Intelligence and being collected by ‘unseen’ people.

We choose what appears at the moment to be convenient, the ability to connect and communicate in the trendiest apps and our fear of missing out, especially on social media, over our privacy.

There have been many high-profile scandals on privacy, most notably the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica one. Each of these scandals reveals details of just how much value our information is worth to the app developers who continue to make astronomical returns. How easily we agree to give up our privacy, the tactics the developers use to goad us into accepting the terms and in some instances, the illegality of the terms of service enforced on users. Most recently, Alexa and Google Home revealed that they have humans listening to some of the content collected by their respective tools.

Data and Artificial intelligence have become an integral part of providing solutions to social problems and conveniences. To power Artificial Intelligence and develop the next cutting-edge solution, all sorts of information is collected to analyse behaviours and habits of users making it easier to manipulate user behaviour to increase usage and power the company’s profitability. Often, this is at the expense of the human behind the data who at this point is merely a product.

With many of the apps, we give access to our location information, access to our picture galleries, contacts lists, social media and other private information. Reading the terms of the apps reveals that often, by agreeing to the terms, we allow irrevocable rights to numerous actions including use, modification, analysis and publication of our information. Even when we delete the apps, the information already shared remains with the providers for undisclosed periods of time.

I am not advocating for a complete shutdown of use of mobile apps, but I think we, the users, should actively understand what we agree to, carefully think about the value we get versus the personal information we give access to and demand for better. Before clicking on ‘allow’, weigh the risks and make a well-informed and deliberated choice. Act in your own best interest.

Consumers have the power to force tech companies to respect their privacy. If we refuse to allow such permissions and questioned the terms of use, the developers would be forced to change their policies to conform to acceptable privacy policies and terms of service.

 
 

Remember, if you are using a free service then you are the product, your data is the price.

Nzilani is a  Tech lawyer