Privacy concerns surround Apple’s facial recognition technology (well, for some)

Apple’s new iPhone X, which goes on sale in October, will sport cutting-edge facial recognition technology. While its Face ID technology may attract consumers, some observers have expressed concerns about the brave new world such an offering would usher in. 

Last Wednesday, Sen. Al Franken in a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook raised questions about how Face ID will impact consumers’ privacy and security. RT noted last week that Face ID “could spell disaster for those wanting to keep their private data from the prying eyes of law enforcement.” 
However, attorney Richard Lutkus — a partner in the San Francisco office of Seyfarth Shaw, and is a member of the law firm’s Global Privacy & Security Team — concurs that the iPhone X Face ID will become an interesting legal issue.

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“When arrested, can cops point the phone at the suspect and have it unlock? In most cases, the passcode is more secure than your fingerprint. They can and have compelled use of a finger to unlock a phone. Facial recognition technology seems analogous, and does not even need a touch,” he says. “Can your face self-incriminate you? Will be interesting legal arguments on this, in terms of search and seizure and protection against self-incrimination. Even Miranda. Silence is golden until your face unlocks your phone.” 


These may be concerns, but apparently less so among end users. It’s almost a given that the iPhone Xwill sell like gangbusters and face a backorder into 2018.  Apple says FaceID is “even more convenient than Touch ID.” With Face ID, the iPhone X unlocks only when you’re looking at it. It’s designed to resist spoofing by photos or masks. Your facial map is encrypted and protected by the Secure Enclave. And authentication happens instantly on the device, not in the cloud.