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Chinese Deepfake FaceApp Zao faces privacy disaster issue after going viral

Sep 2, 2019, 1:30 pm

Who doesn’t imagine to be in the most cherishing scene from his or her favorite movie? Zao now gives you the opportunity to live up your celebrity dream. But it also has some major drawbacks.

Zao is a face swapping app that went viral as soon as it was introduced to the Chinese market. It enables users to upload images and swaps users with celebrities in video clips with the help of its AI engine.

This app is one of the most noteworthy Deepfake apps in China. It was released on August 30 and it became the most downloaded app in China’s App Store over the weekend.

To our surprise, this app reportedly has some risk factors when it comes to the privacy of the users. Zao’s privacy policy and technical approach have some issues that concern the people. But again, this is down to the rights being granted by users to the developers over the images uploaded. It seems like that a stack of free data is made available for indiscriminate usage just for processing and marketing purposes.

In addition to that, the data provided by the users are being given to MOMO Inc. MOMO Inc. is an organization that is literally in the ‘identity exchange’ game for entertainment purposes.

Therefore, there is a high risk of personal data being leaked without our knowledge. This particular issue has told upon the app and its ratings have dropped at the App store. Chinese tech company Tencent has already blocked the links to the app from its WeChat messaging platform. The company reportedly took measures against it because of the probable risk factors.

However, a company associated with Zao has recently assured the users on Weibo through a post.

We thoroughly understand the anxiety people have towards privacy concerns. We have received the questions you have sent us. We will correct the areas we have not considered and require some time.

This isn’t the first face-swapping technology to drive a viral consumer craze—and it won’t be the last. But it’s a clear illustration of how quickly the technology is advancing and how (relatively) easily it can be deployed.

Zao has certainly come across a heavy blow in its own country while it is being criticized for its security issues. Even the Chinese media is also covering the story widely.

China was already accused of mounting a two-year hacking campaign on Apple, Android and Microsoft devices. Therefore, people are still not able to put their faith on the apps which do not have any security guarantee.

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