Cotton Warns of Smartphone Privacy Concerns Amid ‘FaceApp’ News

The Russian-based app rose to the top of the Apple and Google stores

Tom Cotton / Getty Images

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) warned smartphone users to protect their privacy after news broke that the viral app "FaceApp" has access to all of their personal photos and is owned by a Russia-based company.

"What I would say to your listeners is be very discriminating in the way you download apps. Delete, if you have apps on your phone that you don't use, delete them all. There's no reason to keep them there," Cotton told Hugh Hewitt on Hewitt's radio show Thursday, "Each one of those is a potential door into your phone, and therefore to all of your private data, and to take steps to try to verify the origin of every app that you download onto your phone or your tablet or your computer."

Cotton also said that there would be inquiries from Congress about the standards that companies like Apple and Google apply to their app stores after FaceApp rose to the top of both of their download charts. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) has called on the FBI and the Federal Trade Commision to investigate the app for privacy and national security concerns.

FaceApp's terms of service granted the app "perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content." The company that made the app is based in St. Petersburg, Russia.

"Hugh, your phone can be turned into a tracking and surveillance tool. There's no doubt about it," Cotton said, adding, "There are ways to guard against that through, you know, making sure that your software is updated, upgrading to new phones, and being judicious about the kind of apps you download. But there's no doubt that with all of the advances that modern technology has brought us, the way it makes lives easier for you to visit with your grandchildren when you're away with them, or to keep up with the news or sports scores, or to email friends and so forth, that you're also surrendering a degree of privacy and making your data less secure."