CUPERTINO — Of all the gadgets and innovations Apple unveiled this week, it’s the company’s new facial recognition technology that seems to have sparked the most buzz.
Thanks to new cameras and sensors, the deluxe iPhone X allows users to unlock the phone by pointing it at their face. Even though it didn’t work the first time on stage for Apple executive Craig Federighi, the company’s “Face ID” technology exceeds what its competitors — like Samsung — have done with facial recognition.
But as Apple pushes the envelope with Face ID, new legal and ethical challenges have emerged, worrying privacy advocates, technologists and even members of Congress.
“Unlike a password, an individual’s faceprint is permanent, public, and uniquely identifies its owner,” wrote Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) in a public letter to Apple Thursday. “Should a bad actor gain access to the faceprint data that Face ID requires, the ramifications could last forever, particularly if Apple’s biometric technology comes to be used in other devices and settings.”
Apple said on Tuesday Face ID is the safest method to unlock its iPhone. The chances of someone else breaking into an iPhone using Face ID was one in a million, 40 times less likely than its current fingerprint mechanism Touch ID, according to Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. Touch ID, which made its debut in 2013, will be replaced by Face ID.
Schiller said Face ID data will be stored inside the phone and nowhere else. Touch ID data was stored in a small chip called “Secure Enclave”…
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