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Apple's New Face ID Might Be Problematic

September 12, 2017 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:39 AM UTC

The new Face ID on Apple’s iPhone X might seem cool, but the feature could wind up being a problem.

[THEME MUSIC] ROBERT HACKETT: Welcome to Fortune Tech Debate, where we debate the issues of the day in two minutes. Today, we're chatting about Apple's new iPhone, the iPhone 10. It comes with a feature called face ID that allows you to unlock your phone with your face. Jeff, do you trust this thing? JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: I do not, Rob. I don't like this at all. Here's how it's going to work. They say it's only on the brand new expensive iPhone 10. And this little button is going to be gone. And instead, you can look at it and it'll unlock. ROBERT HACKETT: Now, I mean this sounds like a pretty cool feature. I no longer have to fumble around if I'm holding something or whatever. All I have to do is shoot a glance at my phone and boom, it opens. That sounds pretty compelling. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: And easy for payments. I admit the idea is really cool. You know why I don't like it? ROBERT HACKETT: Why don't you like it? JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: This is the least secure thing I've ever heard of. ROBERT HACKETT: If you think it's less secure-- I mean, when they were pitching this on stage with the demo, they said that touch ID-- if a random person came around and put their finger on a phone, you had a 1 in 50,000 chance that it would break through. They said this is an improvement 20-fold. It's one in a million. That sounds more secure to me. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: And Apple is good at the tech. I know Samsung has this, but they don't claim it's bulletproof. Apple's really going on a limb here. ROBERT HACKETT: Sure. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Even though it didn't work on stage, remember that. ROBERT HACKETT: That's true. It was so secure that even Craig-- Craig Federighi, the software ahead at Apple, could not get into the phone. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: But hang on, here's my big problem. Here's my big, big problem. I'm kind of like law and privacy guy. Right now, suppose the cops arrest you and want to get in your phone. ROBERT HACKETT: Yeah. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: They arrest you for something wrong and they want to look on your phone. All they have to do now is go like that, they're into your phone. I don't like that at all. ROBERT HACKETT: That's true. I mean, but we had this issue before with Touch ID. Cops can compel you to put your finger on the phone too, right? So it's kind of-- it's kind of similar. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: I've got issues with that too, as well. I don't-- I prefer not to Touch ID. ROBERT HACKETT: So you just go passcode all in. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Passcode, yeah. ROBERT HACKETT: Don't even go for the biometrics. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: No one can force you to open it. It's illegal to force you to open it. And also you try too many times a phone will lock. Now, just hold it up. It's not just cops, what if I want to rob you? I'm going to take it, take your locked phone. And after I hit you in the face, I'm going to go like that-- final indignity-- and I'm going to get your phone. ROBERT HACKETT: I admit it's not perfect. But I mean, this thing does have a very high success rate. If you're not worried about law enforcement, and maybe you should, I don't know. JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Or robbers. ROBERT HACKETT: Or robbers. This stuff does have a very high success rate. And personally for me, I think they continue-- [INTERPOSING VOICES] JEFF JOHN ROBERTS: Have fun with that, I will use my passcode. ROBERT HACKETT: Well, time is up. Come to for more Tech Debate. [THEME MUSIC]