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U.S. Senator Raises Concerns Regarding Face ID Security with iPhone X

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A day after Apple announced facial recognition system to unlock the iPhone X, an American senator has written a letter to CEO Tim Cook, conveying his concerns on users’ privacy and security.

At issue is Face ID, a replacement for Touch ID that scans a smartphone owner’s face in order to unlock the device or authenticate Apple Pay. Experts have expressed concerns that the technology could be a step backward for device security, as well as a potential move toward a privately owned database of facial biometric data.

According to a new report from Recode, Minnesota Senator Al Franken, a Democrat, has asked several questions related to Apple’s implementation of Face ID technology.

“While details on the device and its reliance on facial recognition technology are still emerging, I am encouraged by the steps that Apple states it has taken to implement the system responsibly,” Franken wrote in the letter.

“However, substantial questions remain about how Face ID will impact iPhone users’ privacy and security, and whether the technology will perform equally well on different groups of people,” he continued.

He called on Apple to detail how the device protects the facial data from possible hackers and asked whether the data will be used for any purpose other than for the facial-recognition system.

Senator Franken, who has scrutinized the rising use of facial-recognition technology for several years, also questioned whether Apple has any intention to ever store the facial data in a central database, how it would notify users of a future breach to that database and how Apple plans to respond to law enforcement requests for facial data.

Franken has asked that Apple respond by October. 13. Importantly, pre-sales for the iPhone X are slated to begin October 27.

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  • If you already know about how they secured fingerprints, they said enough in the keynote. This works the same way.

    It stores a mathematical representation of your face in the secure enclave. The secure enclave is onboard your phone and never transmits its data off the phone, so first someone would have to have your physical phone. Then they’d have to hack the secure enclave by knowing your phone password. Then they’d need to somehow download the data, which in the end would just be a bunch of math and would be useless to them without knowing how Apple’s chips read that math.

    I’d say that’s pretty secure. It would be far, far easier to take a bunch of covert photos of someone from different angles if you wanted to get their facial data.

  • Kirk

    I hope this American senate has also asked Samsung about their facial recognition software and demanded a deadline. I find it funny that once ? decides to do something it’s all of a sudden a big deal meanwhile they are not new to the game on it. Same old game…

  • Bill___A

    I am not so concerned about the data, but it is disturbing that someone could point the device at one’s face and unlock it. Of course, iOS 11 does have that feature where you can make it need a password by a simple action…

  • pegger1

    Yes, someone could unlock your phone if they put it in front of your face but why would you let them. Where I see that as a concern is police or border security could now more easily force you to unlock the phone without you wanting.

  • If you don’t look at the phone it won’t work.

  • This. Attention is also required. Remember it didn’t work with eyes closed. Facial gesture recognition has been around some time. It requires you to be looking at the phone with attention in order to unlock.

  • FragilityG4

    All this is is another Senator who sees an opportunity to get their name in the news to further their own personal political agenda.

  • sukisszoze

    That senator needs to get his priorities straight and should be asking Equifax questions on how 143 million identities got hacked leaving victims with increased risk of fraud for the rest of their lives. These victims can’t simply change their social security numbers.

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