China: Viral face-swapping app Zao draws privacy concerns

Author: Josh Horwitz, Reuters, Published on: 6 September 2019

“Chinese face-swapping app goes viral, sparks privacy concerns”, 2 September 2019

ZAO - a new Chinese app that lets users swap their faces with celebrities, sports stars or anyone else in a video clip - racked up millions of downloads on the weekend but swiftly drew fire over privacy issues.

The app’s surge in popularity and sudden backlash from some users highlights how artificial intelligence (AI) technologies bring about new concerns surrounding identity verification.

ZAO was uploaded to China’s iOS App Store… immediately went viral… As the app went viral, some users complained that its privacy policy could endanger them. One section of the user agreement stated that consumers who upload their images to ZAO agree to surrender the intellectual property rights to their face, and permit ZAO to use their images for marketing purposes.

Zao said on Weibo that it would address those concerns. “We thoroughly understand the anxiety people have toward privacy concerns,” the company said. “We have received the questions you have sent us. We will correct the areas we have not considered and require some time.”

ZAO was published by Momo Inc… The company listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014. Momo did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

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