Tim Cook and his executive team within Apple are well informed and experienced enough to know that you can’t just introduce a feature like Face ID without expecting to get some push-back questions. Those questions are expected, but it’s likely that even Tim Cook didn’t expect them so quickly.
Just a day after the announcement of iPhone X and Face ID, U.S. Senator Al Franken has issued an open letter to Tim Cook raising questions about the security of the new Face ID feature.
And let’s make this perfectly clear. This isn’t some out-of-touch man trying to grab onto some relevancy by making waves about whatever the current hot topic of discussion is. Franken currently sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, which means that Face ID is immediately on his radar from a security perspective. The letter penned to Apple CEO Tim Cook asks questions about the new feature, how the company plans to use the captured data in the future, and, rather topically given recent events, how Apple will respond to law enforcement requests.
Senator Franken has also raised concerns about the accuracy of the system and referenced the fact that certain facets of society have been questioning the privacy elements:
Since the announcement, however, reporters, advocates, and iPhone users have raised concerns about how Face ID could impact Americans’ fundamental right to privacy, speculated on the ways in which Apple could use faceprint data in the future, and questioned the quality and security of the technology. For example, it has previously been reported that many facial recognition systems have a higher rate of error when tested for accuracy in identifying people of color, which may be explained by variety of factors, including a lack of diversity in the faces that were used to train a system.
The letter then goes on to request that Cook respond by answering a series of questions, 10 in total, with questions such as “Apple has stated that it used more than one billion images in developing the Face ID algorithm. Where did these one billion face images come from?” Franken finally signs the letter off by expressing his appreciation for Apple’s efforts to implement Face ID “responsibly’ and the ongoing efforts to engage the office on these matters.