Lawmakers, campaigns urged to delete FaceApp as security concerns mount

Capitol Hill is intensifying its look at social media apps after the revelation FaceApp users' pictures were in the hands of a company based in Russia.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) announced on Twitter he is introducing legislation that would tighten the ways apps can collect and use data.

Sen. Chuck Schumer says the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission should launch investigations into exactly what FaceApp is doing and why.

"The potential for our facial data to fall into the hands of something like Russian intelligence or the Russian military is really troubling," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

About 80 million Americans downloaded FaceApp, which takes a person's photo and makes them appear decades older. Side-by-side photos flooded social media, but many who snapped selfies in the app may not have known the app's developer is based in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Furthermore, the app's fine print allows the company to store and control edited pictures. That raises concerns about where, how, and by whom the data is being collected.

"At the very least, we need to know more about what the heck is going on here," said Schumer.

READ: Use of age-altering FaceApp grants Russian company ‘perpetual, irrevocable’ rights to your content

The Democratic National Committee, a victim of the Russian government's 2016 hacking campaign, reportedly insisted candidates and staffers delete FaceApp from their phones, saying the privacy risks are still unclear.

While there is no evidence FaceApp is associated with nefarious Russian actors, lawmakers want to be sure.

Barry Edwards is a veteran of numerous campaigns in the Tampa Bay Area and says online habits may become an interview topic for those who want to work in politics.

"I think there is going to be more discussion about what their browsing habits are, what kinds of apps they use on their phones, and also restricting them from what they use at work," he said.

FaceApp says it doesn't indiscriminately collect data that could identify someone, and that it doesn't go beyond pictures anyway. It also said nothing is shared with third parties. But FOX 13 Political Editor Craig Patrick says there's always a 'but' with Russia.

"How do you know there weren't Russian bot factories driving this up, ginning this up just before you hit a key campaign cycle to try to get  a political operative among others to contribute photos unwittingly to who knows who, and for who knows what?" Patrick pointed out.

FaceApp insists most edited pictures are deleted after two days. They also deny that the app can access the rest of a photo library.