U.S. Senate Democrat Al Franken wants Apple to provide more information on Face ID facial recognition technology

“A day after Apple unveiled its new iPhone X — a device that its owner can unlock using facial recognition — Sen. Al Franken is pressing the tech giant to detail the privacy and security safeguards it has in place for biometric data,” Tony Romm reports for Recode.

“To Franken, the concern is that Apple could use the so-called faceprints it collects through its new unlocking system, called Face ID, ‘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,’ the lawmaker said in a letter to the company Wednesday,” Romm reports. “Apple has already addressed some of these early fears: As he debuted the device, for example, Phil Schiller, the company’s senior vice president of marketing, said facial-recognition data would be stored on individual iPhones, not sent to some cloud server operated by Apple.”

“Still, Franken has a number of lingering questions for Apple CEO Tim Cook — including whether Apple or a third party has the ability ‘either remotely or through physical access to the device’ to “extract and obtain usable faceprint data from the iPhone X.’ That includes law enforcement, as the Democratic lawmaker wants to know how Apple might handle requests ‘faceprint data or the Face ID system itself,'” Romm reports. “Before debuting the newest iPhone, Schiller said the company had relied on more than a billion scans to fine tune its facial-recognition system. To that end, Franken is pressing Apple to detail where it obtained those images. And he also is asking the tech giant to explain whether it’s sufficiently trained Face ID to recognize different genders, races and ages.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Based on an ever-accumulating history (see articles below), Franken seems to strive to attach his name to Apple Inc.

Wonder why?

Franken’s letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook is here.

U.S. Senate Democrat Al Franken urges federal probe of Apple Music – July 23, 2015
U.S. Senate Democrat Al Franken demands answers from Apple CEO Tim Cook over iPhone 5s’ Touch ID – September 20, 2013
U.S. Senator Al Franken presses wireless companies and hardware makers for Carrier IQ answers – December 5, 2011
Senator Al Franken! Paging Senator Al Franken! – December 1, 2011
Apple, Google to face U.S. Senator Al Franken’s subcommittee in mobile privacy hearing – May 9, 2011
U.S. Senator Al Franken demands answers from Apple’s Steve Jobs over iPhone tracking – April 21, 2011
Apple’s Bud Tribble to testify in U.S. Senator Al Franken’s Judiciary Subcommittee hearings on mobile privacy – May 6, 2011
U.S. Senator Al Franken demands answers from Apple’s Steve Jobs over iPhone tracking – April 21, 2011


      1. Now that’s funny, as funny as Al Franken. He has a book out, full of one-liners. I wonder what would have happened if George Carlin had become a Senator! We all appreciate comic relief, but sometimes we need relief from comics even more.

          1. Yes, Botty, but I did vote for Pat Paulsen several times way back when. If I remember correctly he had some decent showings multiple times. Some of his better campaign slogans: “I’ve upped my standards. Now, up yours.” and “We can’t stand Pat!” and “If either the right wing or the left wing gained control of the country, it would probably fly around in circles.”

        1. Comics are way clever. Their brains clock at much higher frequencies than the rest of us. More comics in politics will would be a good thing. Take Al for example, what he said in the letter today most of the bozos on this board take as some sort of insult. Actually he is helping. But most people here would be hard pressed to realize this simple fact. All he is doing is getting it on record. He “knows” apple will come through answering his questions with flying colours. By asking these simple questions (clarifying things for all bozo’s) he is mitigating any shenanigans from the CIA, NSA, or Trump. If you care about privacy, you might try to help by spreading the reasons why privacy matters to people who say things like, “I got nothing to hide”.

      2. I don’t often agree with your views, but “Franken/Stein 2020” is effin hilarious!

        Based on the number of fake downvotes, it confirms that many on the left side of the political spectrum have no sense of humor.

  1. People are fearful of the iPhone; What a great endorsement for its security features. Evidently, it’s so secure that it belongs on the battlefield as the Pentagon’s official phone but only on Apple’s security terms.

    I say this only rhetorically because I am sure that the military would require a modification to make it less secure so, should this happen, that is, Apple snuggling into bed with the Pentagon, Apple would lose its vaunted trusted status thereby lose that one significant advantage over copycats.

  2. I would like to know what Al Franken’s true reason for this request. Does he think that all advancements in Apple’s technology should go through him first? You can be sure the the great copier of the far east is working hard to caught up and would love to know what Apple knows. Why is it that he seems to be asking for additional info from Apple all the time? Does he think he is the only social conscious in Congress or is he looking for more book material? It hasn’t been a day and he is all over it. This really bothers me. What happens if Apple says no? Is a Congressional investigation next that he can chair? Wait, that can’t happen can it. Is he just to full of himself?

  3. Franken’s face fears are only justified with Apple’s skanky and low corporate standards competition. He should know all too well by now Apple’s protective position on security.

  4. I really wonder why the collective IQ of Minnesota is so low that this guy has been elected even once, much less re-elected. I must say, though, that he’s a lot funnier in his new gig than he ever was on SNL.

  5. This isn’t about Al Franken.

    It’s about ensuring that the technology is being applied in a safe and effective manner that ensures privacy.

    Would you really rather that no one is asking these questions?

  6. I see nothing wrong with practical paranoia, asking for documentation regarding Face ID technology.

    But Al Franken doesn’t listen very well, does he. All the stuff he’s asking about was covered in Apple’s presentation. So please, stop acting like you’re asking for something Apple hasn’t already provided, at least verbally. This is what I call ‘Over The Edge’ liberal paranoia. It’s just as loony as ‘Over the Edge’ conservative paranoia.

    March on Al Franken, but please attempt to be more civil and sensible, less assaulting and spooked.

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