Senator Al Franken wants Apple to be more transparent about Face ID

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Face ID
Face ID is raising questions from one U.S. senator.
Photo: Apple

Apple may claim that Face ID is its most secure biometrics system yet, but Democratic Senator Al Franken wants the proof.

In a letter to Apple sent Wednesday, Franken raised questions about whether Apple might use the faceprints it gathers to, “benefit other sectors of its business, sell it to third parties for surveillance purposes, or receive law enforcement requests to access it facial recognition system — eventual uses that may not be contemplated by Apple customers.”

While Apple has noted that face data will be stores on individual devices, rather than an Apple-run cloud server, Franken still wants more details to be made clear. This includes whether Apple can, “either remotely or through physical access to the device” obtain the data in a way that could also be used by law enforcement.

In addition, Franken wants to know whether Apple might change its stated terms that it “has no plans” to allow third party applications to access Face ID, as well as asking for more details about Apple’s security measures. Finally, he’s interested in where Apple obtained the billion+ scans it used to train its facial recognition software, and whether the system is well enough trained to ID different genders, races, and ages without bias.

You can read the full letter here.

Apple’s fight for privacy

While Apple hasn’t yet shared this information regarding Face ID, the company has previously fought on the opposite side to lawmakers when it comes to snooping from law enforcement. Most notably, Apple had a privacy vs. security standoff with the FBI over the San Bernardino shooting case in 2016 when the FBI requested that Apple created an iPhone backdoor for law enforcement.

Apple also doesn’t generate billions of dollars from ad data in the same way that rivals like Google do. In a 2014 interview with Charlie Rose, Apple CEO Tim Cook spelled out Apple’s policy on this subject by stating that: “You [the customer] are not our product. I think everyone has to ask, ‘How do companies make their money?’ Follow the money. And if [tech companies are] making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data, I think you have a right to be worried and you should really understand what’s happening with that data.”

With that said, we’d love to hear more details from Apple and the way in which it trained its facial recognition software, for our own interest as much as anything else.

Are you concerned about Face ID? Leave your comments below.

Via: Recode

  • JerryTK214

    Al is a bafoon. Apple clearly states that the biometric info is local to the phone and is never communicated back to Apple or sent anywhere…SAME AS FINGERPRINTS. Funny that Apple is actually updating iOS to make it harder for police to access your phone without permission from you. Not the actions of a company that is getting lax with security and privacy.

    • RespectfullyYours

      I’m a bit disappointed by the comments so far. Did anyone actually read his letter? He clearly states that he understands that the data is stored locally. His concerns are more with security of that data and what would happen should Apple change their policy in the future. I for one am thankful that a politician is asking questions regarding the privacy and security of the people he represents. He is not disrespecting Apple in any way by simply asking the question.I swear, some of you think the slightest criticism of Apple is directed at you personally.

  • DrMuggg

    Another politician who haven’t understood a thing. Don’t these guys have people that inform them about stuff?

  • Isn’t he part of the same bunch that supports spying on Americans and wanting Apple to install a backdoor so the FBI can unlock iPhones…nice try Al

  • Framz Ferdomamd

    North Korea, ISIS, Syria, Russia, etc and all this idiot can worry about is a non-existent problem from a product that hasn’t even been released yet. This is why America is going down the drain–has nothing to do with Apple.

  • Daniel Skatter

    And this is another reason why I’m glad I live in Iowa instead of Minnesota. So I don’t have this dolt representing me.
    Did he miss the part about the secure enclave bit, your face info doesn’t leave your phone just like your fingerprint doesn’t leave your phone with touchID?
    Perhaps if he actually…you know…listened to the presentation, he’d look less foolish today.

    • aardman

      We wouldn’t welcome you anyway if you wanted to move here, so I’m glad you’re glad you live where you live.

  • Rhaspun

    He wants proof? Why would Apple possibility give some inside how their algorithm works.