Is Putin, the Kremlin villain after our personal data? Warnings are pouring out on social media not to download the immensely popular NewProfilePic app.
The Daily Mail even publishes about it and social media is flooded with “experts” warning about this app that is at the top of download lists. But what is actually going on?
First of all, what kind of an app is this? With the New Profile App you can turn a selfie of yourself into a kind of painting of your face. With a piece of AI software, the app gets to work with your photo and turns it into an artistic profile photo that you can use for your various social media. The android version has been downloaded more than 1 million times from the Google Play Store and also for the iPhone the app ranks high in the Apple App Store rankings.
To get such a scenic profile picture, you need to upload your selfies and your data to the app’s server. That’s exactly where the concerns are. The domain name of the NewProfilePic site is registered in Moscow. Indeed, that city where Putin also lives. And it is not so high in the popularity lists worldwide.
Are the concerns justified or is everything okay? fact check site Snopes has delved further into it and also received a response from the app builder. “We are a company with offices in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. But your photos or other data will not be sent to Moscow. All our apps work through Amazon and Microsoft servers in the US,” the company behind the app told Snopes.
The fact check site shows a screen dump of a user showing all the permissions of the app. With a call not to use or download the app. But are these permissions really that different from other apps? The answer is no, according to Snopes. Other popular apps such as TikTok, WhatsApp and Instagram also require similar permissions. You could conclude that perhaps we should always be a little more critical about what data we want to share with the companies behind the apps.
And what about the Russians?
There remains the concern whether we will not end up with the data that we would otherwise be happy to share with the Yankees and the NSA. Well, as said, the servers are located in the US at Amazon and Microsoft. And the domain name may be registered in Moscow, the founder of the company is no longer in Russia and the company is now registered in the British Virgin Islands. If that doesn’t give you confidence…