Apple iPhone X Is Allegedly Liberally Sharing Face ID Data With Apps

One of the fancy new features of the iPhone X has repeatedly come under fire. We are talking about Face ID, the biometric security feature that Apple touted as being highly secure. Face ID allows iPhone X users to sign into their phones without entering a password or PIN code. However, there is growing concern about the amount of data Face ID might be sharing with third-party apps.

This was a concern that surfaced several weeks ago, as it came to light that Apple's policy is to let developers access any necessary facial data if they are granted permission by the customer, and agree not to sell the data to third parties, among other restrictions. However, once app developers are in possession of a customer's facial data, it is no longer secured on their device—app developers are allowed to store that information on their own servers.

Face ID

"The privacy issues around of the use of very sophisticated facial recognition technology for unlocking the phone have been overblown," Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, told Reuters at the time. "The real privacy issues have to do with the access by third-party developers."

Fast forward several weeks later and this remains a concern. Here's the thing—app developers who want to use the new camera on the iPhone X can capture a rough map of a customer's face, along with a stream of dozens of facial expressions. All of that data can then be stored on a remote server, which calls into question how effective Apple can be about enforcing its privacy rules.

Apple counters that its pre-publication reviews and periodic audits with the threat of booting developers from its App Store serve as strong deterrents for abuse. IN addition, the data available to developers cannot be used to unlock a phone, as it requires a mathematical representation of the face instead of a visual map.

Nevertheless, privacy advocates are concerned about developers being able to pluck face data and store them on remote servers, which are susceptible to hacking. And despite the above deterrents, Apple has no real control over what developers do with that data once it's in their possession.

Hopefully nothing sinister ends up happening as a result of sharing facial data with developers. That's the last thing Apple needs to contend with right now, after already dealing with a turbulent week of shoddy software updates that left Mac users vulnerable to an easy hack.