Have you created a ShazzleMail account on your smartphone? This is a required first step.

Yes No

Free Encrypted Email

ransomware

Senator Franken asks Apple for privacy guarantees around Face ID data

September 15, 2017

A friendly letter from Senator Al Franken (D-MN) to Apple requests that the latter provide a few more details on the tech behind its Face ID system, which allows users to unlock their iPhone X using facial recognition.

It’s very far from a nastygram; the Senator pretty clearly just wants to cover a bit more ground than Apple had time for in its presentation yesterday. He writes:

I am encouraged by the steps that Apple states it has taken to implement the system responsibly. 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. To offer clarity to the millions of Americans who use your products, I ask that you provide more information on how the company has processed these issues internally, as well as any additional steps that it intends to take to protect its users.

Face ID, which uses a Kinect-like system to scan the user’s face and only lets a matching faceprint unlock the phone, is being treated with some skepticism in the tech community. An onstage flub during the iPhone event didn’t help, but there are some usability concerns (how do you unlock your phone while it’s on the table a couple of feet away? Surely not a PIN?) and privacy ones as well.

Of course, there were similar concerns when Apple debuted Touch ID’s fingerprint recognition — and sure enough, Sen. Franken wrote a letter then, too.

His letter today is well-informed as to the potential weaknesses of facial recognition systems. For example, he asks what the source was for the billion face images Apple touted as the training set for the system, since a lack of diversity there could lead to underrepresented groups being unable to use Face ID.

He also asks whether Apple has any plans to use faceprint data for any purpose other than Face ID, whether it’s possible for Apple or any interested third party to extract that data from the phone, and whether the data might be stored remotely.

Interestingly, he asks whether there are any protections against a person being forced to unlock the phone by someone else holding it up to their face. Kind of dark, Senator!

Lastly, he asks how Apple will respond to law enforcement requests for faceprint data. That’s a sticky issue right now considering the amount of pressure tech companies are under to identify users, respond to law enforcement requests and so on.

If Apple’s answers are anything like the answers it gave in its response to the 2013 letter, the gist will be that because the faceprint is stored in the Secure Enclave and therefore is inaccessible to Apple, its services or its partners, many of these questions will be moot.

For the remaining questions, however, I look forward to Apple’s responses and evasions, each of which will likely be illuminating in its own way. Apple is requested to respond to the Senator by October 13.

Tags: , , ,

Introducing ShazzleMail Email and How it Works

Privacy is your Fundamental Human Right.

Our Daily Blog
screen-shot-2017-09-13-at-2-38-44-pm
iPhone X TrueDepth Camera Data Raises Privacy Concerns
December 5, 2017

The TrueDepth cameras in Apple's iPhone X bring the power of facial recognition — and the convenie...

Read more
snapchat-logo
Snapchat now recognizes food, pets, and more when suggesting filters
November 27, 2017

Snapchat is now using object recognition to identify what’s in users’ photos and serve them rele...

Read more
snapchat-stock-0973-0-0
Mobile-Phone Case at U.S. Supreme Court to Test Privacy Protections
November 21, 2017

A U.S. Supreme Court with a record of protecting digital privacy is taking up a case that may curb l...

Read more
ph
HACK BRIEF: ONEPLUS PHONES HAVE AN UNFORTUNATE BACKDOOR BUILT IN
November 16, 2017

ONEPLUS SMARTPHONES HAVE developed a bit of a cult following, thanks to a combination of design and ...

Read more
725_ly9jb2ludgvszwdyyxbolmnvbs9zdg9yywdll3vwbg9hzhmvdmlldy9lndczzdrknjc3mjc1ngnkogzjnmfmmmq2owu4nji3ys5qcgc
Experienced IP Litigator, Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Lawyer Gabriel Ramsey Joins Crowell & Moring
November 13, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Crowell & Moring LLP is pleased to announce the add...

Read more