Facial recognition tech has been around for a while and it’s been becoming more and more widespread as our smartphones start scanning our faces before unlocking our devices, especially via Apple’s new Face ID.
The latest to join this trend is none other than Apple, a company that just launched three new iPhones, one of which features Face ID – iPhone X.
Face ID isn’t such a novel idea, of course, much like it happens with all things iPhone. The device is just now making use of features Android users have been enjoying for years – yes, facial recognition included.
In fact, Apple’s Face ID isn’t going to fafare that much better than the biometric unlock feature Samsung has been using, which has been slammed by security researchers several times over. Why? Because it can be fooled by simply showing the device a photo of its owner.
Hopefully, however, as Face ID seems just a tiny bit more sophisticated, it will be far more difficult to crack. Whether that will be the case, it remains to be seen, of course.
This, however, isn’t a feature that’s only used by smartphones, but also starting to get popular in airports, for a different reason. While the official story is that airports will be using it to help travelers move through security faster, it can and will be used for security purposes.
How private is Face ID?
What many are concerned about with this type of technology is that everyone’s privacy will be shot.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted following the big Apple unveil that Face ID will only help normalize facial scanning, making us “immune” to it. Hs concerns lie in the privacy department, one that he’s been trying to protect for years. More specifically, he’s afraid the facial scanning technology will be abused.
Good: Design looks surprisingly robust, already has a panic disable.
Bad: Normalizes facial scanning, a tech certain to be abused.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 12, 2017
Given his history at the NSA, his decision to go rogue and blow the whistle on the intelligence agency’ many operations infringing on basic privacy rights, he probably knows what he’s talking about.
Of course, no one really believes the facial-scanning tech will only be used for travellers’ convenience and comfort and not for security and monitoring purposes and that’s a big tell about how we’ve come to accept, to some extent, that our privacy may have to suffer a tiny bit if we’re to stay protected.
That being said, we have different reactions to our privacy being infringed depending on what secrets are exposed.
Facial recognition software will only expose what everyone can already see – our faces, likely mixed with a bunch of government data. On the other hand, law enforcement agencies snooping through our emails, social media accounts, and conversations, will expose those pictures we’re not keen on everyone seeing, or our politically incorrect opinions shared online with other like-minded people, but not our close friends and family.
This topic demands ample debate, of course, but as technology advances, we may very well be debating just for the sake of it, as the future is certainly going to include the widespread use of facial recognition.
Concerns about Apple being the company that normalizes facial scanning, however, are notable, but not exactly accurate. Sure, Apple’s iPhones have a lot of fans, but other Android phones have had this for a few years. Sure, it’s not the most used security feature out there, but it’s nothing new.