U.S. Senator Al Franken is pressing Apple to provide details on the privacy and security safeguards around FaceID data, Recode reports. In a letter sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Franken raised concerns that Apple could use the “faceprints” collected by FaceID “to benefit other sectors of its business, sell it to third parties for surveillance purposes, or receive law enforcement requests to access it facial recognition system — eventual uses that may not be contemplated by Apple customers.”
Although Apple addressed some of these concerns already in its presentation earlier this week — stating for instance that facial-recognition data would be stored only in the Secure Enclave in much the way way as fingerprints for Touch ID, and not transmitted outside of the iPhone — Franken is seeking further clarification on a number of issues, such as whether Apple or any third party has the ability to “extract and obtain usable faceprint data from the iPhone X” and how Apple might handle law enforcement requests for “faceprint data or the Face ID system itself.” Franken also asked whether Apple could later decide to change its mind and begin storing facial-recognition data on its servers, acknowledging that “Apple has stated that is has no plans to allow any third party applications access to the Face ID system or its faceprint data,” but seeking further reassurances. Fraken did note that he is “encouraged by the steps that Apple states it has taken to implement the system responsibly” but that “substantial questions remain” and that he is asking Apple to provide additional information in order to “offer clarity to the millions of Americans who use [Apple] products.”
In the letter, Sen. Franken has also asked for additional details around the methodology and development of FaceID, such as where the company obtained the “one billion face images” used in developing the FaceID algorithms, what steps Apple has taken to “ensure its system was trained on a diverse set of faces, in terms of race, gender, and age” in order to protect against racial, gender, or age bias in FaceID, and the steps Apple has taken to “ensure that Face ID can distinguish an individual’s face from a photograph or mask.” Franken has respectfully requested that Apple respond to his list of questions by Oct. 13, 2017. A spokesman for Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment by Recode.