Face-ile arguments: Getting it wrong about Face ID


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Beware, iPhone X users! Unscrupulous developers will soon have access to your precious bodily data!

Writing for the Forbes contributor network and weaponized wrongness foundry, Kevin Murnane asks “What Could Possibly Go Wrong? The iPhone X’s Face ID.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Nathan and @designheretic.)

Police are happy to report that the underlying point of this article was found wandering pantsless and confused in a Denny’s parking lot and has been returned to home safely.

Anyone who has been paying attention to what’s going on around them for at least some portion of their life has almost certainly experienced…

…a sudden and uncontrollable urge to go to the bathroom while stuck on a ferris wheel.

…Murphy’s Law.

Oh. Just the Macalope, then?

If something can go wrong, it will go wrong.

Kinda the same thing the Macalope said.

Anyway, Face ID is apparently all set to make a mess on the ferris wheel.

Is Face ID easier to use than the iPhone’s Touch ID? Not really.

Some would disagree.

After a weekend with the iPhone X… Face ID is a game changer on more levels than I expected.

Several people, in fact.

…it’s effortless and instant—worthy of Apple’s favorite word, “magic.”

It really seems to the Macalope that most iPhone X owners like Face ID. We don’t really have numbers but, generally, it doesn’t seem like everyone is pining for Touch ID. Some probably are, sure. But as much as pundits want Face ID to be a big negative, it’s actually a positive.

What about hackers? Can the technology be hacked?

Almost everything can be hacked but Face ID has not been hacked yet. Murnane confuses “hacked,” meaning to execute an exploit against the underlying code, with “spoofed,” which is to trick the system while it executes as designed. Face ID has not been hacked, but it has been spoofed, just like Touch ID was.

That’s not the only point he’s confused on.

Apple is sharing user’s Face ID data with third-party app developers.

Oh, my god, it is?! [rips face off, throws it in the fire]

Phew. That was a close one. Can only do that once, though.

No, Apple is not sharing Face ID data with anyone. “Face ID” is Apple’s brand name for the biometric authentication feature on the iPhone X. No one has access to the underlying data stored by this feature, not even Apple employees.

The rich set of data that Face ID collects to unlock the iPhone X stays in what Apple calls a “Secure Enclave” on the phone. That’s a good thing.

The Secure Enclave is part of Face ID. These aren’t two separate things.

What Apple is allowing developers access to is facial mapping data to enable any number of cool and/or supremely stupid features (see Animoji). Can this data be used to sinister effect by trying to predict when you’re sad or happy or in a buying mood? Possibly, although Apple’s license agreement prohibits this.

According to The Verge:

There are of course restrictions here. Apple says the data can never be used for advertising or marketing, and it cannot be bundled and sold to analytics companies or data brokers. Apple also bans developers from creating profiles of otherwise anonymous users by using identifying facial capture information.

Most importantly, the data Apple allows developers to have is not as complete as Face ID data.

What happens after that is anybody’s guess. Apple may try to police what developers do with your face after they’ve downloaded it…

Apple will try to police developers before they steal your face using the App Store approval process. That’s not infallible, of course, but it’s something. And it’s definitely more stringent than competitors’ review processes.

When your Face ID data leaves Apple’s hands the chances that bad things will happen greatly increases.

YOUR FACE ID DATA IS NEVER IN APPLE’S HANDS OR ANYONE ELSE’S. This might sound like the pedantic ravings of a furry beast but this terminology is important.

The iPhone X launched about a month ago and it’s already apparent that it’s less convenient than Touch ID and less secure than Apple would have you believe.

Most users the Macalope has heard from find it more convenient than Touch ID and, whether or not it’s exactly as secure as Apple says, it’s definitely more secure than Touch ID, and you’re probably using that.

It’s also very troublesome that Apple is sharing people’s Face ID data with third-party app developers and allowing them to download the data onto their own servers.

AAAAAAGH. THEY ARE NOT SHARING FACE ID DATA. Oh, my god. It’s like watching someone make a presentation and repeatedly say annoying things like “irregardless” or “on a going forward basis” or “Don’t you just love The Big Bang Theory?”

A password doesn’t give away very much about you…

Except, possibly, all the money in your bank account.

You only have one face. Lose it as your security key, or lose how it’s being used for unscrupulous purposes and it’s game over.

Because we all type passwords with our faces.

There are certainly some concerns with using apps that scan your face. But articles that confuse terminology and make wild and incorrect statements don’t serve to educate people about them, they just inflame.

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