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Every Russian App Is A 'Potential Counterintelligence Threat:' FBI

Every Russian App Is A 'Potential Counterintelligence Threat:' FBI

Any mobile app developed in the Russian Federation poses a “potential counterintelligence threat” to the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Investigation told the Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer in a letter released on Monday.

What Happened

In the letter dated November 25, the FBI said that Russian laws allow its government access to any data within its borders, which means the country’s intelligence services possess “robust cyber exploitation capabilities.”

Russia’s Federal Security Service can remotely access all communications and servers on the Russian networks, without needing to make a request to the concerned internet service providers, the FBI said.

FaceApp A Danger

The FBI was responding to a letter Schumer sent to the agency and the Federal Trade Commission in July.

The New York Senator had asked the two federal agencies to assess whether Saint Petersburg-based FaceApp, which requires users to submit their photographs and other personal information as part of its services, posed any security threat to the U.S.

FaceApp has previously denied the claim that any of its users’ data is “transferred to Russia,” as reported by TechCrunch in July.

FaceApp founder Yaroslav Goncharov told TechCrunch that it uses infrastructure based outside of Russia to store the user data, namely Inc’s (AMZN: NASDAQ) AWS and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL: NASDAQ) Google Cloud service.

Not Worth The Risk

Following the FBI’s response, Schumer said that using the app — which uses artificial intelligence to manipulate faces to look older, younger, or swap genders — is not worth the risk of compromising national security.

“I strongly urge all Americans to consider deleting apps like FaceApp immediately, and to proceed with extreme caution when downloading apps developed in foreign countries that are known adversaries,” Schumer said. “It is simply not worth the risk.”

Schumer and other lawmakers have expressed similar concerns on China-based video-sharing app TikTok.


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