Published: Tue, September 03, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Chinese face-swapping app ZAO goes viral, sparks privacy concerns

Chinese face-swapping app ZAO goes viral, sparks privacy concerns

Zao's original privacy policy stated the app's owners would have "free, irrevocable, permanent, transferable, and relicense-able" rights to all the images users upload and the content made with them. Alipay, the country's biggest mobile payment service that implements facial scan technology for payments, has been forced to reassure users that ZAO's deepfakes cannot be used to bypass their security checks. Yeah, Zao faced instant backlash from privacy enthusiasts - much like Face App.

The face-swapping app, released on Friday, Aug. 30, immediately went viral, skyrocketing to the top of Apple's App Store in China within only a few days.

Zao's soaring popularity comes amid growing concern over deepfakes - which are altered by using artificial intelligence to appear genuine.

With the rise in the concerns of users, Zao quickly updates its terms and modified it into "headshots" and mini-videos' won't be used for anything other than to improve the app.

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App Annie said Zao was the most-downloaded free app in China's iOS App Store over the weekend-before it was flooded with negative reviews thanks to. "In order to maintain a healthy internet environment, we have ceased to allow links". You may sometimes find it hard to guess whether a clip is modified or not. China has used facial recognition technology to massively expand its surveillance network, and users will likely balk at handing over personal data to an overseas developer.

Zao, which is now only available in China, works by having users take pictures of themselves moving their mouths, or making other facial expressions, and then using the data to project their likeness onto celebrities via artificial intelligence. Zao's privacy policy and technical approach have some issues that concern the people. The questions you have raised have been received, and we will change it in a place that is not well-considered. The app replied through its official Weibo account, "Dynamic facial recognition data is not saved nor uploaded". This particularly applies to the photo uploads, as Bloomberg notes, users can either add an existing photo of themselves, or take new ones using the app - these include images of you blinking to assist with the realism of the deepfake rendering. "It also says that if a user deletes content on ZAO, this will be wiped from ZAO's databases too".

In addition to that, the data provided by the users are being given to MOMO Inc.

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