Apple is expected to release a new technology next month so you know what that means: it’s time to worry about how bad it will be.
Writing for Mashable, Jack Morse says if you’re not afraid, you will be. You will be.
That is, of course, a reference to a line from the popular movie series Star Trek. Don’t @ me.
“Facial recognition tech is taking over smartphones. Here’s why you should be worried.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Tibor Csapo.)
There are few things more personal than a face.
A bespoke granite carving of a beloved pet thrown through the plate glass window of your summer house. A loved one who can recite your genome from memory. An H-shaped pair of coffins so you and your spouse can hold hands for all eternity. Your groin. That’s about it.
Every wrinkle, blemish, and freckle combine to tell a person’s story…
That mole that looks cancerous. The vertical scar running over your left eye which is a glassy white and a memento of that knife fight in Singapore in 1936. Your gold prosthetic nose. Your face tattoo that says “FREE MUSTACHE RIDES”. This is who you are, Marsha.
Oh, and if smartphone manufactures have their way, that map will also soon be the preeminent key to your digital life.
At least we won’t be misplacing it all the time, amirite?! Ha-ha! Any-hoo, what’s the deal with avocado toast?
Basically, it’s a lose-lose situation—albeit one that the smartphone makers of the world seem all too excited to drag us into.
You will not be surprised to learn that the word “enclave”, which is used to describe the technology Apple currently uses to keep your fingerprint safe as part of Touch ID and will certainly be used as part of Face ID, does not appear anywhere in this article.
Companies like Apple, Google, and Qualcomm are charging ahead to make face scans the new biometric we’ll rely on for everything from unlocking phones to making digital purchases.
And presumably all these companies have the same set of motivations, right? Like, they’re all interested in getting your data and selling it to third parties because that’s their business model, right?
This question is never addressed.
Apple is loudly berated for being behind the curve in AI because it won’t pull your data up to the cloud and use it to enhance its results. At the same time, though, it’s lumped in with the group of feckless data dealers who prefer to think of it as “our” email rather than “your” email.
“Once the always-on device gathers information, it may be available to many kinds of people, contrary to the user’s intentions,” Schwartz said.
“These include external data thieves, who may break into the device or the data farm where content is stored; or internal employees of the company that makes the device, who improperly misappropriate customer content; or the police, by means of a subpoena or search warrant (depending on what the police are demanding).
Which company has the better track record on these? Biometric data on an iPhone is stored in the enclave which is paired with the sensor it validates against. Nothing is stored in a data farm. Also, Apple stood up to the FBI when it wanted to unlock the phone of a terrorist. Pretty sure they’ll stand up for you.
None of this is worth mentioning, though. We are to presume all these companies equally want to eat your delicious face data.
“Absolutely people should be concerned,” said Schwartz. “What else is the company going to be doing with the face [scan]?”
Apple? Nothing. They don’t have it.
Does this matter to you now? Maybe, maybe not. But it probably will when someone drains your bank account using nothing more than a photo they pulled off your Instagram account.
Remember when the same kind of hacking was going to run rampant with Touch ID, which was a security disaster even though it was way better than the four-digit passcodes or no passcodes many people were using? Remember when the Apple Watch was going to give us wrist cancer?
It is important to do proper due diligence on these technologies as they come out. It is irresponsible, however, to run around telling people hackers are going to use their selfies to steal their money. Look, if your bank account is about to be emptied by the iPhone 8, it’s not because of Face ID.