100s of titles, one news app for just $10 a month.
Dive Deeper:
Warning over Facebook New Profile Pic app with links to Russia
A cyber security expert has urged caution over giving the app access to your images and data
Warning issued over profile picture app that's 'sending data to Russia'
The company behind the app, Linerock Investments, is reportedly based next to Russia's Ministry of Defence, three miles outside Red…
Warning over Facebook New Profile Pic app that has chilling links to Russia
The New Profile Pic app is reportedly sending data back to Moscow, Russia, with hundreds of thousands of people using…
Facebook users warned over New Profile Pic app 'that has chilling links to Russia'
Major cyber security concerns have been raised within the tech security industry over the app
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Warning over Facebook New Profile Pic app going viral 'with links to Russia'
People are being warned against the New Profile Pic app, which has been sweeping across social media in recent days.
Facebook users warned over New Profile Pic app's links with Russia
A cyber security expert has urged people not to give the app access to your images and data
Get all your news in one place
Latest National news:
Home builder Metricon denies rumours of collapse as industry faces major cost blowouts
Home builders are being warned to expect higher costs and lengthy delays until at least 2023 as the construction industry…
Read news from The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more, with one subscription
Learn More
Knights suffer eighth defeat in nine games as Broncos run riot
Newcastle hosted Brisbane at McDonald Jones Stadium on Thursday night.
Monique Ryan to lodge legal challenge after AEC anomaly prevents thousands of Covid-positive Australians voting
Teal independent says she will lodge federal court challenge as AEC admits people who tested positive early this week but…
'I did it': Alleged killer spoke of going 'on the run', court told
The boy denies murdering an 18-year-old man during a fight at a Canberra skatepark.
Great day for a walk and talk
It's National Walk Safely to School Day on Friday
From analysis to good news, read the world’s best news in one place
Australian election briefing: Labor reveals costings as Morrison bulldozes through wage questions – plus a painted rabbit
Thursday: The best of Guardian Australia’s 2022 federal election coverage
A Sinkhole With An Ancient Forest At The Bottom Was Found In China Rappel Me Down, Boys
Surely this means dinosaurs.

Warnings issued over New Profile Pic app initially registered in Russia collecting large amounts of personal data

By Gustaf Kilander
Screenshot / Linerock Investments LTD

Experts have warned users to be wary of the New Profile Pic app that collects large amounts of personal data.

The app, which was initially registered in Russia, allows users to upload an existing photo to create a profile image in the appearance of a painting or a cartoon.

Users in the tens of thousands have uploaded images to the app to acquire profile pictures.

It’s been reported that Linerock Investments, the company behind the app, is based in an apartment building near the Moscow River, next to the Russian Defence Ministry.

But Photo Lab spokesperson Kate Polezhaeva told The Independent that while they have “development and customer support offices in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus ... the top management of the company and the managers of the majority of the projects, including myself, are based out of these countries”.

According to the Google Play Store, the app has been installed more than 1 million times and has been reviewed by around 30,000 users. It’s listed as the number one free app on the App Store.

Cybersecurity adviser Jake Moore told DailyMail.com that “this app is likely a way of capturing people’s faces in high resolution and I would question any app wanting this amount of data, especially one which is largely unheard of and based in another country”.

But the fact-checker website Snopes wrote that “there’s little evidence to suggest that this app is any more invasive in its collection of user data than other apps”.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists offshore leaks database shows that Linerock Investments Ltd has an address in Moscow and is also linked to the British Virgin Islands.

But Ms Polezhaeva said that “the address on Moscow River is the address of lawyers who registered the company. We have never had an office there”.

“It is true that the domain was registered to the Moscow address. It is the former Moscow address of the founder of the company. He does not live in the Russian Federation at the moment,” she added. “By now the address has been changed in order to avoid any confusion.”

A company based in St Petersburg in western Russia released the FaceApp in 2017, allowing users to upload photos that would be edited using artificial intelligence to make them appear older. A challenge that went viral led to security experts warning users about the amounts of data the app sent to Russia.

Warnings have been issued over the New Profile Pic app which collects large amounts of personal data from its users (Screenshot / Linerock Investments LTD)

The New Profile Pic app promotes the application by saying that “the world around us is fast-paced and always evolving. In this ever changing world, why stick to one profile pic on your social media? Let it be different, always new and… made by AI!”

“The NewProfilePic app lets you change your user image style as often as you want. Dare to be different, with a profile pic that reflects your current mood or state of mind. Impress your friends on social media and keep them interested in what’s coming next!” the promotional material for the app states.

When downloading the app, users agree to share their location, information about what kind of device they’re using, and other photos uploaded to their social media accounts.

The data policy says that “we collect certain personal information that you voluntarily provide to us”.

“We collect your name, email address, user name, social network information and other information you provide when you register,” it adds.

The app also collects data about the user from other companies, as well as the user’s IP address, browser type and settings.

The developers of the app say that “whenever you choose an effect that involves face manipulations we use special face recognition technologies to detect a photo; find required facial key points, and apply the effect to your photo”.

The “detected key points may be kept along with the photo on the servers of our providers for up to two weeks from the last interaction with the photo ... to speed up further processing of the same photos,” the company says.

“Before people upload photos or other personal data to a brand new website, they must carry out their own due diligence where possible,” Mr Moore told DailyMail.com.

“Although most people will not question the possibilities of anything untoward occurring from simply uploading a photo, the amount of data taken under the radar can often be far more than the user intended on sharing which can cause security and privacy problems,” he added.

“Regardless of where they are based, I would always err on the side of caution when handing over sensitive data as once it has gone it is virtually impossible to gain control of it back,” he said.

Ms Polezhaeva told The Independent that “we understand that due to the current events in Ukraine, any connection to Russia could raise suspicions. That’s why we want to share the position on this issue on our founder’s Instagram”.

“We did not and do not plan to have any affiliation with any governmental organisations of any country,” she added.

“All user photos are hosted and processed on the Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure servers, which are located outside the Russian Federation,” she said.

On 20 February, four days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Photo Lab founder Victor Sazhin partly wrote on Instagram that “our team has development offices in Moscow and Kiev, Novosibirsk and Odessa. Our iOS team is mostly Russian. Our Android team - mostly Ukrainian”.

“I personally was born in USSR in Moscow and moved to Krivyi Rih being two months old. Very literally my fatherland is Russia and my motherland is Ukraine,” he added at the time. “With Moscow being my home and Kryvyi Rih being a beloved city of my childhood, I never would imagine discussing a matter of war between our nations.”

What is inkl?
The world’s most important news, from 100+ trusted global sources, in one place.
Morning Edition
Your daily
news overview

Morning Edition ensures you start your day well informed.

No paywalls, no clickbait, no ads
Enjoy beautiful reading

Content is only half the story. The world's best news experience is free from distraction: ad-free, clickbait-free, and beautifully designed.

Expert Curation
The news you need to know

Stories are ranked by proprietary algorithms based on importance and curated by real news journalists to ensure that you receive the most important stories as they break.

Dive Deeper:
Warning over Facebook New Profile Pic app with links to Russia
A cyber security expert has urged caution over giving the app access to your images and data
Warning issued over profile picture app that's 'sending data to Russia'
The company behind the app, Linerock Investments, is reportedly based next to Russia's Ministry of Defence, three miles outside Red…
Warning over Facebook New Profile Pic app that has chilling links to Russia
The New Profile Pic app is reportedly sending data back to Moscow, Russia, with hundreds of thousands of people using…
Facebook users warned over New Profile Pic app 'that has chilling links to Russia'
Major cyber security concerns have been raised within the tech security industry over the app
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Warning over Facebook New Profile Pic app going viral 'with links to Russia'
People are being warned against the New Profile Pic app, which has been sweeping across social media in recent days.
Facebook users warned over New Profile Pic app's links with Russia
A cyber security expert has urged people not to give the app access to your images and data
Get all your news in one place