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Looks like the FBI designated FaceApp as a threat because of its crazy data policy and its Russian origin. Even though I think it's a really shady app, that's a pretty low bar.

I think FaceApp should be hosted on an AWS-like infrastructure.

Hosting in Russia is expensive and does not provide any advantages, such as dynamic routing that is crucial for world-wide app. Most developers use it to comply with Russian standards: you only need to store information about Russian users on Russian servers. In addition, currently in Russia there are no good alternatives for reliable cloud neural network inference.

But I can’t understand the negative media about the application, based on the founder’s country of origin. I argue that this is discrimination because there is as yet no evidence of breach of confidentiality.

According to the article, FaceApp says they host in the United States, Singapore, Australia and Ireland. Whether that's true or not, I don't know. The problem the FBI has is no matter where the data is hosted, the Russian government has access to it as long as the Russian developers of FaceApp have access to it.

>I think FaceApp should be hosted on an AWS-like infrastructure.

>Hosting in Russia is expensive and does not provide any advantages

Hosting in top .ru DCs like Selectel is vastly cheaper than on any AWS-likes. These are extremely different products though.

You might be right. It's been a while since I tired to migrate to Russian servers.

It’s worth noting that the heads of CIA, FBI, NSA, DHS and the Justice Department have all confirmed the Russian government are currently actively engaged in ongoing global disinformation campaigns propagated primarily on social media designed to sway elections in democracies abroad.

It’s beyond dispute.

The Russian government has breached confidentiality.

US intelligence agencies do the same, no?

The country intervening in most foreign elections is the United States with 81 interventions, followed by Russia (including the former Soviet Union) with 36 interventions from 1946 to 2000—an average of once in every nine competitive elections [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_electoral_intervention

"US intelligence agencies do the same, no?"

Yes, definitely, again another thing beyond dispute. Not sure what the point is you're trying to make though.

The most effective aspect of this disinformation campaign is that if you share the wrong meme on reddit or Facebook you can get accused of being a tool of the Kremlin, which is pretty grand and hilarious really. Americans have gaslit themselves into thinking the Russians are everywhere (again).

My point is that I do not see a direct connection between the mobile application founded by the Russian indie developer almost 2 years ago and the swaying one of the most established democracy in the entire history.

policy standpoint that's a low bar

but from a counter intelligence standpoint that's finger painting bar

Yeah, I don't think it's about the data storage, as much as the possibility of backdooring your phone by a rogue state.

They haven't designated it as a threat. The headline is wrong.

Not during an election year, at a point in time that sees _much_ heavier use of these apps than even 4 years ago, no.

It says potential threat, not threat, and according to this letter, the Russian government can access ISP data directly without request.

Thankfully that doesn't happen anywhere else in the world.

Australian government metadata requests was well over 300,000 last year, nearly 1000 requests a day all warrantless, can come from tiny local councils or horse racing orgs. Trust us, they say, there's oversight in hidden tribunals, they say.

Yes all countries do it, but US intelligence doesn't just take into account the action, they take the actor as well. Australia is a friendly nation to the US and shares intelligence data with US intelligence agencies. What we see, they see and what they see, we see. Russia is not a friendly nation to the US and does not share intelligence with US intelligence agencies.

The FBI isn't saying "normal people are at risk from FaceApp" but "US intelligence is at risk from the use of FaceApp". In the (very short) linked letter, it specifically calls out "elected officials, candidates, political campaigns, [and] political parties".

Considering all US intelligence agencies unanimously agree that Russia already attacked US candidates and political parties in the past, saying "yeah but everyone does it" is about as off-topic of a remark as you can get. To my knowledge the FBI has never publicly disclosed Australia's efforts to meddle in US elections.

> saying "yeah but everyone does it" is about as off-topic of a remark as you can get

I've seen this sort of "argument" a lot lately. Not sure why people think it communicates anything other than lazy cynicism.

That everyone (to a rounding error) has sex does not mean that everyone has sex with everyone.

It's got an actual name: Whataboutism.


How amusing that it's most often associated with Russian propaganda.

How any US serving member is allowed to use facebook or random apps is beyond me. The entire premise here is absurd. Of course it is a risk, just like the app partially owned by tencent that one of the most popular sites in the world insists you install when browsing on mobile.

Australians legally do metadata and spying better than everyone else on many metrics and then share it with the multiple eyes. Something to remember when the media is whipping up a threat frenzy. Given Australia's treatment of whistleblowers and slow descent into authoritarianism, I very much envy the few protections Americans take for granted.

> It says potential threat, not threat

Aren't all threats potential threats, until they are actual? I dunno, maybe the FBI has a formal delineation between potential threat, threat, and . . . whatever is after that. But I doubt it.

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