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.