After the fiasco of FaceApp, another AI-powered app that swaps face has gone viral. As expected, it has also introduced privacy concerns within a record time. The iOS app Zao was able to top China’s edition of the App Store in record time after its launch on August 30.
What made the iOS app Zao become such a hit in such a short time? It is the ability of the app to incorporate your face into scenes from movies and TV shows. However, it was soon reported by Bloomberg that an early version of the user agreement of Zao gave the developer Changsha Shenduronghe Network Technology which is a subsidiary of dating and live streaming company Momo, ‘free, irrevocable, permanent, transferable and relicense-able’ rights to all the content made by the user. Simply put, this means that any pictures or videos that feature your face will become the property of the creator of app Zao.
The company was quick to backtrack on its policy though, and updated the terms. The new terms state that the imagery will only be used for app improvement or for purposes that users would have agreed to in advance. The company also vowed to delete material from its servers if the user deletes it via the app. The Zap team will ‘fix the [privacy] issues that we didn’t take into consideration,’ as per a post that was made by the creators on Weibo.
The correction came a bit too late for some of the people though. Users have already condemned Zao’s ratings on the App Store over infamous privacy issues. The China E-Commerce Research Center also asked the government for investigating the allegation that the software violated ‘certain laws and standards.’ It is not clear though if officials will be taking actions, especially after the policy change by Zao. What this does do is serve as a reminder for making sure that you check the privacy policies before using apps that involve your likeness along with a plethora of other sensitive information.