On the evening of August 30, the circle of friends was blown up by a new mobile application called ZAO, which belongs to Beijing Momo Science and Technology Co., Ltd. and is produced by Changsha Fusion Technology Company, founded by two co-founders of Momo.
The function of ZAO is AI face swap, you can use ZAO without PS. With only a selfie, you will be able to appear as celebrities in popular movies or TV series. Because the technology is so good that the effect is very real. The APP has attracted a large number of netizens soon after its debut on August 30 and quickly became a hit in the circle of friends.
The previous softwares to achieve the same effect of popularity online was Faceu and Zuji APP. Previous facts have proved that content-based community applications can retain users and guarantee their survival in the mobile application market. ZAO APP needs to think about how to avoid the mistake of “overnight blooming, instant cooling”.
But then some netizens and users began to worry about their personal information which could be disclosed and used by criminals amid the trend of facial recognition payment, because a lot of face recognition may pose a security hazard to Alipay’s face payment.
According to ZAO’s description in the user agreement, besides free use and modification of users’ portraits, the APP can arbitrarily authorize the data and sell the information to a third party whom it wants to authorize. The key words mentioned in the agreement “globally free, irrevocable, permanent, sublicensed and re-licensed rights” deeply aroused the concern of the public.
On September 3, the Network Safety Administration of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology conducted an inquiry and interview with the relevant persons who are in charge of Beijing Momo Science and Technology Co., Ltd., demanding that they strictly abide by the national laws and regulations, in terms of the non-standard user privacy protocol of ZAO APP. Ever since ZAO APP was published last Friday night, it has been publicly reported by the media and exposed by its users about its risk of data leakage and privacy protocol.
The relevant authorities required self-examination and rectification to be organized, personal information of users be collected and used according to relevant regulations, agreement terms to be standardized, and information security protection of network data and users to be strengthened. At the same time, it should further strengthen the security assessment of new technologies and new services, take effective measures to actively guard against potential risks.
On September 3, the ZAO operation team issued a statement saying that it would not store personal facial biometric information. According to its statement, ZAO presents a “face-swapping” effect, which is based on the user’s submitted photos, and the material scene selected by the user. With the superposition of the technology to achieve the fictitious image, ZAO does not collect any personal biometric features. The statement claimed that the use of ZAO does not contain payment risk. When users delete information or cancel their accounts, ZAO will delete the relevant information according to the provisions of relevant laws and regulations.
ZAO’s operation team also apologized for the doubts and troubles it had caused before.
In recent years, from Faceu App which could add stickers to photos and preview your old age’s look, to the “military uniform look” H5 launched by China Daily’s New Media Center, online beautified, face-swapping and cross-dressing games are common. The popularity of ZAO a few days ago was due to the breakthrough of the limitation of static pictures and the swap of faces in “real” video animation.
AI face swap in videos is not a new invention. Two years ago, a foreign netizen named DeepFakes made a batch of celebrity face-swapping videos, which aroused a heated debate online. The account was quickly blocked because of inappropriate content, but DeepFakes released all the code, enabling anyone to use and improve the technology. Some experts say that the algorithm of ZAO is more advanced than that of two years ago when users had to input a video to swap their faces. Now a single picture in ZAO can achieve this function. This shows that in the field of artificial intelligence, especially in the level of industrialization of technology, Chinese companies have been ahead.
Face information is too rich in details, which is also a kind of “biometric information”. The impact of biometric information leakage is far greater than the risk of data information. Therefore, for those who upload facial information, use and save facial information online, “cautious” is the word to remember. The emergence and the backlash of ZAO also give a warning that the collection of personal information needs a bottom line, and the protection of personal information should be paid special attention to.