Fairfax Tech Talk Column

Fairfax Tech Talk Column

19.7.2019 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 155

Great! There is a new app I want to use that all my friends are talking about. I can hardly wait to download it and start using it. Terms and conditions, I hear you say? Ha! Who has time to read all that legal gobbledygook? I am sure it will be OK and I won’t be able to make much sense of it anyway. I want to just download the app and start using it. Click Allow and Next a few times…

Great. I am in. Wow this is a great app. I can see why so many people are using it.

Fast forward an undetermined amount of time…

What? Why was my phone bill so high? What are these charges on my credit card? Why is my face being used to advertise sex toys?

We live in a global marketplace. The current world population is 7.7 billion. There are some of those people that are dishonest or have ulterior motives…

One of the latest app trends is FaceApp. People are uploading photos of themselves using the app and applying a filter to show what they will look like in their elder years. For a start, I don’t quite understand the concept. The global cosmetic products market is valued at US$620 billion annually. With all that money being spent on looking better, why does an app that makes you look older suddenly go viral? I won’t try and understand humans – I am here to talk about tech.

When you apply the age filter, your photo is uploaded to a server which is then used to render a new image to show your aged self. This is the power of sophisticated AI for outright fun. I have noticed many images lately from friends and celebrities and politicians but I would guarantee very few have read the Terms and Conditions.

Just by downloading the app, you are agreeing to some items that would make you squirm. To quote, “You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate…display your User Content and any name, username or likeness…in all media formats and channels…without compensation to you...you agree that the User Content may be used for commercial purposes.” This is just a tiny part of what you have agreed to – just by DOWNLOADING the app. To break this down, if you use the app, you might be driving down a freeway in Vanuatu one day and see your photo on a billboard advertising a strip club in Port Vila or your face could be the image used by a worldwide organisation that is trying to rid the world of chlamydia. At a local level, if the Prime Minister used FaceApp, there would be nothing to stop the developers selling Anthony Albanese the image of Scott Morrison to be used to advertise the latest ALP policies! Imagine ScoMo trying to explain that he didn’t really give permission to use his image but he actually did agree to it by downloading the app!

You might think this scenario a little far-fetched but time and time again I see users with ridiculous phone bills or credit card statements from users who clicked OK without reading information correctly.

Bottom line – keep using apps as there are some wonderful solutions to problems we didn’t even know existed BUT be alert. The world needs more lerts! Jokes aside, try and be aware of what you are agreeing to when you use an app and then make an informed decision.

Tell me the worst T&C situation you have seen at ask@techtalk.digital.

Mathew Dickerson