Apple’s priciest and fanciest smartphone model, the iPhone X, may come equipped with a security feature that unlocks the phone through facial recognition, but experts think this doesn’t make it more secure than previous iPhones.
On the contrary, a password or a PIN keeps you shielded from law enforcement intrusions because they’re protected under the Fifth Amendment, while the Face ID tech that replaces iPhone’s Touch ID is not.
Face ID is very similar to Android’s Face Unlock or Galaxy S8’s iris scanner, but unlike those two technologies, Apple’s tech projects 30,000 invisible dots on the user’s face before unlocking the handset. It also uses an infrared camera to read the data.
The dots generate an accurate map of one’s face, which will enable iPhone X users to quickly access their handsets.
Apple claims that the new tech is more secure than the previous one because there’s literally a one in a million chance for someone to unlock your phone by using their face. With a Touch ID, there is a one in 50,000 chance. The company is so confident the tech is secure that they even plan to use it for the Apple Pay.
The Fifth Amendment Issue
However, biometric authentication methods are less secure in the face of law than good ol’ passwords or PINs. Biometrics cannot be used to protect U.S. citizens from self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.
According to a recent ruling, facial or iris scans and fingerprints are very similar to providing a blood sample so they are not protected by the Fifth.
This means that a law enforcement officer can ask you to unlock your iPhone if it is protected via biometrics and you cannot invoke the Fifth Amendment. If the phone is protected via a password or a PIN, the police officer cannot force you to unlock the handset.
Apple tried to solve this problem with Touch ID by creating a system that disables the feature if you press the power button five times. Face ID can be disabled by simultaneously holding the power and the volume buttons.
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