The amount of paranoia mixed with public grandstanding sometimes surprises me regardless of the source– and I’m a big fan of paranoia. After all, if everyone is out to get you, a little paranoia is the right attitude to have.
The President tweets and says crazy things that are not always rooted in fact. The Iran deal is bad but we never hear why. Obamacare is bad but we never hear why. The Washington Post says “Apple is sharing your face with apps.” That’s just not true. There are no facts to support the assertion that Face ID presents a new privacy worry as the article states.Geoffrey A. Fowler should know better.
It’s going to hit the fan when the face-mapping tech that powers the iPhone X’s cutesy “Animoji” starts being used for creepier purposes. And Apple just started sharing your face with lots of apps.
Again, not true. Apple is not sharing your face with anything, anybody, or putting it anyplace where it can be retrieved. That’s not how Face ID works and after a few years of similar paranoia over Touch ID you’d think major media outlets and their spawn of writers would know that.
The forgettable premise here is that Face ID somehow captures your face and makes it available to app developers and we all know how scurrilous they can be, right? Hmmm. Maybe there’s a reason the iOS App Store has so many privacy and security restrictions.
The thing to understand about Face ID is the same thing to understand about Touch ID. Your face gets scanned but not captured. What is captured is enough data that gets saved and then compared to the next Face ID or Touch ID scan which then determines whether or not to let you use the iPhone.
There is no face in Face ID. It’s all math, digits, numbers– not even a photo or a representation that looks like you. Apple did this right.
Now that a phone can scan your mug, what else might apps want to do with it? They could track your expressions to judge if you’re depressed. They could guess your gender, race and even sexuality. They might combine your face with other data to observe you in stores—or walking down the street.
Let me start over.
There is no image of your face in Face ID. With Animoji in Messages and with Apple’s developer access to some of the TrueDepth camera and sensor API’s which can produce facial expressions, all that gets captured and used is a facial expression and movement that is not identifiable as coming from your face. Think of Face ID and the expressions used in Messages’ Animoji and other apps as a face map, but one that cannot be replicated into your face.
Apple’s face tech sets some good precedents—and some bad ones. It won praise for storing the face data it uses to unlock the iPhone X securely on the phone, instead of sending it to its servers over the Internet.
Pretty much like Touch ID. It just works, but nobody can grab fingerprints from the iPhone (I’m sure that Abby from N.C.I.S. could grab a print from the Home button).
Less noticed was how the iPhone lets other apps now tap into two eerie views from the so-called TrueDepth camera. There’s a wireframe representation of your face and a live read-out of 52 unique micro-movements in your eyelids, mouth and other features. Apps can store that data on their own computers.
And with a little research the Post writer would have found out that none of that data can be used to identify an iPhone user. An expression? Yes. Whose expression? No. That’s not how Face ID works. The Post article goes on and on and on in a vain attempt to stir up privacy and security dust where none exists.
It’s not clear how Apple’s TrueDepth data might change the kinds of conclusions software can draw about people. But from years of covering tech, I’ve learned this much: Given the opportunity to be creepy, someone will take it.
Yeah, and criminals are allowed to use iPhones so maybe we should just ban iPhones forever. The potential for wrongdoing is just too great. Come to think of it, why not ban procreation? One can argue that procreation itself hasn’t been to mankind’s benefit.
What keeps privacy advocates up at night is that the iPhone X will make face scanning seem normal. Will makers of other phones, security cameras or drones be as careful as Apple? We don’t want to build a future where we become numb to a form of surveillance that goes far beyond anything we’ve known before.
What’s the problem? We’ve already become numb to the onslaught of fake news and fake morality and fake outrage. Face ID is not near the top of the world’s problems despite Sky Is Falling scare tactics.