It's your face, but it can be shared, shared and shared.
By Geoffrey A. Fowler / Washington Post
Poop that mimics your facial expressions was just the beginning.
It will hit the fan when the facial mapping technology that drives the cheesy "Animoji" of the iPhone X starts to be used for more hair-raising purposes. And Apple has just started to share your face with many applications.
Beyond a photo, the front sensors of the iPhone X scan 30,000 points to make a 3D model of your face. This is how the iPhone X unlocks and makes animations that once required a Hollywood studio.
Now that a phone can scan your cup, what else could applications want to do with it? They could track your expressions to judge if you are depressed. They could guess their gender, race and even baduality. You can combine your face with other data to watch it in stores or walking down the street.
"We take privacy and security very seriously," said Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr. "This commitment is reflected in the strong protections we have built around Face ID data, protecting them with Secure Enclave on iPhone X, as well as many other technical protections that we have built into iOS."
In fact, Apple – which makes most of its money selling us hardware, not selling our data, may be our best defense against a future explosion in facial recognition. But I also believe that Apple hastened to share face maps with application developers who may not share their commitment, and is not being paranoid enough about the minefield they just entered.
"I think we should be pretty worried," Jay said. Stanley, a senior policy badyst at the Civil Liberties Union of the United States. "The chances that we will see damage to the facial data is quite high, if not today, then soon, if not in Apple, then in Android"
His face is open for business
Technology of the Apple's face sets some good precedents, and some bad ones. He earned praise for storing the facial data he uses to unlock the iPhone X safely on the phone, instead of sending it to his servers over the Internet.
Less noticed was how the iPhone allows other applications to take advantage of two phantom visions of the so-called TrueDepth camera. There is a representation of his face in the form of wire and a live reading of 52 unique micro-movements in his eyelids, mouth and other features. Applications can store that data on their own computers.
To watch it yourself, use an iPhone X to download an application called MeasureKit. It exposes the facial data that Apple makes available. The creator of the application, Rinat Khanov, tells me that he already plans to add a function that allows him to export a model of his face so that he can print a mini-me in 3D.
"Santa cow, why is this information available to any developer? That only accepts a lot of contracts?" Said Fatemeh Khatibloo, an badyst at Forrester Research.
Be careful in Apple's DNA: it has been slow in opening up information about home and health with outsiders. But he also sees the front camera as a differentiator, which helps position Apple as a leader in artificial intelligence and augmented reality.
Apple put some important limits on applications. It requires "that developers request permission from a user before accessing the camera, and that applications explain how and where that data will be used," said Apple's Neumayr.
And Apple's rules say that developers can not sell facial data, use it to identify anonymous people or use it for advertising. They are also required to have privacy policies.
"These are all very positive steps," said Clare Garvey, badociate of the Center for Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University.
Still, it was not hard for me to find holes in Apple's protections.
"They said they noticed an error and this should be fixed immediately," Khanov said. "I wish Apple was more specific in its application review guidelines."
The biggest concern: "How realistic is it to expect Apple to adequately control this information?" Garvey from Georgetown told me. Apple could detect violations of large applications like Facebook, but what about millions of millions smaller
? Apple has not said how many applications it has thrown from its store for privacy reasons.