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iPhone X brings face recognition fear to the masses

Privacy activists fear the widespread use of facial recognition would open the door to broader use by law enforcement

AFP | PTI  |  Washington 

iPhone X
Unlocking one’s phone with a face scan may offer added convenience and security for iPhone users, according to Apple, which claims its “neural engine” for FaceID cannot be tricked by a photo or hacker | Photo: Apple website

will let you unlock the with your face — a move likely to bring to the masses, along with concerns over how the may be used for nefarious purposes. Apple’s newest device, set to go on sale November 3, is designed to be unlocked with a with a number of privacy safeguards — as the data will only be stored on the phone and not in any databases. Unlocking one’s phone with a face scan may offer added convenience and security for iPhone users, according to Apple, which claims its “neural engine” for FaceID cannot be tricked by a photo or hacker. While other devices have offered facial recognition, is the first to pack the allowing for a three-dimensional scan into a hand-held phone. But despite Apple’s safeguards, privacy activists fear the widespread use of would “normalise” the and open the door to broader use by law enforcement, marketers or others of a largely unregulated tool. has done a number of things well for privacy but it’s not always going to be about the iPhone X,” said Jay Stanley, a policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union. “There are real reasons to worry that will work its way into our culture and become a surveillance that is abused.” A study last year by Georgetown University researchers found nearly half of all Americans in a law enforcement database that includes facial recognition, without their consent. Civil liberties groups have sued over the FBI’s use of its “next generation” biometric database, which includes facial profiles, claiming it has a high error rate and the potential for tracking innocent people. “We don’t want police officers having a watch list embedded in their body cameras scanning faces on the sidewalk,” said Stanley. Clare Garvie — the Georgetown University Law School associate who led the 2016 study on databases — agreed that is taking a responsible approach but others might not. “My concern is that the public is going to become injured or complacent about this,” Garvie said.

Widespread use of “could make our lives more trackable by advertisers, by law enforcement and maybe someday by private individuals,” she said. Garvie said her research found significant errors in law enforcement databases, opening up the possibility someone could be wrongly identified as a criminal suspect. Another worry, she said, is that police could track individuals who have committed no crime simply for participating in demonstrations. Shanghai and other Chinese cities have recently started deploying to catch those who flout the rules of the road, including jaywalkers. and related technologies can also be used by retail stores to identify potential shoplifters, and by casinos to pinpoint undesirable gamblers.

First Published: Mon, October 30 2017. 02:44 IST
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