Chinese Face-Swap Platform ZAO Apologizes After Privacy Backlash

China’s viral deepfake app ZAO has bowed to intense media pressure and published an open letter addressing the concerns and their updated user agreement.

The company assured that no facial biometric data will be stored and all other information will be deleted in line with data regulations. The developers made it clear that ownership of the image and data rights stays with the user. ZAO also assured users that the use of its system would not cause “payment risks,” adding that the “security threshold for facial recognition payment is extremely high.”

“We understand your concerns about privacy and security issues, and we value your feedback, opinions and suggestions. We will thoroughly sort out the text of the terms of the user agreement, modify and adjust the areas that might seem ambiguous,” ZAO said in the statement.

The app changed its privacy approach to the use and ownership of the millions of user selfie images uploaded to the app since its launch last week.

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ZAO’s user agreement was criticized for asking users to surrender intellectual property rights to their face and allow the platform to use their image for marketing. Since payment by facial recognition is becoming more prevalent in China, many worried about fraudulent use of the app.

“We attach great importance to personal information protection and data security. We also use a variety of security measures such as encrypted storage in our products, strictly comply with the requirements of laws and regulations, and fully protect personal information and data security,” ZAO concludes.