iPhone X TrueDepth Camera and Face ID Still Raising Some Privacy Concerns for Some

Apple went all-in with a brand new biometric security measure for the iPhone X, adopting the TrueDepth camera system and launching Face ID to secure a device.

It’s a system that is important to Apple in that it replaced Touch ID, the previous go-to biometric security measure for Apple’s iPhone and iPad lineup, and even managed to leap over to the MacBook Pro machines as well. The TrueDepth camera system and Face ID will more than likely find their way to other Apple products as well at some point in the near future.

Apple is confident in the TrueDepth camera system, and, more important, in the inherent security that is built into a facial scanning system like Face ID. And the company has gone to some lengths to explain those security precautions in its own white papers and support documents, but there is one area that is still raising concerns among many.

As written up by The Washington Post today, some people are not okay with the fact that the TrueDepth camera system can be accessed by third-party developers, to which they can use it to make their own apps that take advantage of the camera. The idea is that developers can scan the face of the iPhone owner and then implement those results into more detailed augmented reality-based creations.

However, the level of detail that is able to be captured is part of the concern. The write-up details one app, MeasureKit (developed by Rinat Khanov), which can actually show all of the information that is tracked by the TrueDepth camera system by a third-party app. In total, the camera is able to capture a 3D face map, along with a “live read-out” of 52 micro-movements, which includes the blinking eye, if you squint, where your eyes are looking, movements of the mouth, and more.

For its part, Apple does have a privacy policy in place, which has been the standard before even the iPhone X launched. Apple notes that any app that wants to access the TrueDepth camera system must also have a privacy policy of its own, that the app must detail what, exactly, its collecting, and detail how it is used.

The report, and those echoing the concerns it posits, suggest that while Apple may have the necessary precautions in place, it might be possible to actually enforce the rules with so many apps out there in the wild. Apple can probably keep tabs on things like Facebook, and other high-profile apps that gain plenty of attention from big-name third-party developers, but there is a question about all of the other smaller apps out there. The concern is that Apple will not be able to police all of them, and that user’s facial data will be used negatively as a result.

“Facial detection can, of course, be used for good and for bad. Warby Parker, the online glasses purveyor, uses it to fit frames to faces, and a Snapchat demo uses it to virtually paint on your face. Companies have touted face tech as a solution to distracted driving, or a way to detect pain in children who have trouble expressing how they’re feeling.

It’s not clear how Apple’s TrueDepth data might change the kinds of conclusions software can draw about people. But from years of covering tech, I’ve learned this much: Given the opportunity to be creepy, someone will take it.”

This is not the first time that these concerns have been brought up, of course. At the beginning of the month many of the same sentiments were raised. This is probably an issue that will continue to be raised for the foreseeable future, especially as competing companies that aren’t Apple adopt their own facial recognition concepts. Whether or not Apple will take steps to tighten its own regulations and safety procedures remains to be seen.

[via The Washington Post]