Apple is facing another privacy concern, this time because it will be sharing the face-mapping data acquired by the iPhone X to third-party app developers.
Developers will utilize the data, which will power the Face ID facial recognition feature of the iPhone X, for various features within the apps that they create. Privacy advocates, however, are concerned that the face-mapping data can be used for inappropriate purposes.
iPhone X Face-Mapping Data Privacy Problem
The Face ID feature of the iPhone X is made possible by the face-mapping data collected by the smartphone's TrueDepth camera. The data, according to a Reuters report, can be accessed by third-party developers for features in their apps. For example, an app could overlay a 3D mask on top of a person's face with the data, or a game's characters can mimic the facial expressions of the user.
While the applications of face-mapping data in third-party apps might seem harmless, privacy organizations such as the Center for Democracy and Technology and the American Civil Liberties Union still remain concerned. This is because developers may also use the face-mapping data for marketing purposes, such as gauging the user's reaction after being shown certain advertisements. In addition, developers will be able to store the data on their own servers.
Apple, however, stated in a contract seen by Reuters that third-party apps will only be able to access face-mapping data off the iPhone X after the user grants permission. Developers are also prohibited from selling the data to other parties and using the data for advertising and marketing purposes.
The next question, meanwhile, is whether Apple will be able to properly enforce these rules and catch developers and apps who may be trying to break them.
The Future Of Apple Face ID
While the face-mapping data held by the iPhone X has received privacy concerns, the Face ID feature of the smartphone has been praised for its security.
The facial scans the iPhone X use to authenticate through Face ID are only stored within each device. This means that hackers have no way of stealing data unless they steal the iPhone X itself, and even then, they will have a hard time cracking open the smartphone because the data is also strongly encrypted.
A report claims that all 2018 iPhone models will come with the Face ID feature, which is a massive improvement over the Touch ID. Hopefully, Apple can prove by then that the privacy concerns against the facial mapping data collected by the TrueDepth camera are invalid.