Will iPhone security be pointless with facial recognition?
August 29, 2017 7:53 AM   Subscribe

So it seems like facial recognition is all the rage with the new upcoming smart phones. Wont't that absolutely destroy any ability to decline to unlock your phone in the case of police stops?

Seems pretty easy to point the screen at your face and ask if its your phone and then surprisingly notice that it is unlocked. One can refuse to give up a code or use my fingerprint, but I don't think you can demand to have a bag placed over your head anytime they hold the screen near you. Could there be some sort of lockdown code - wink twice and crinkle you nose and all you data is deleted?
posted by rtimmel to Technology (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In the USA, courts have found that you cannot decline to give your fingerprint to unlock your phone, but you can decline to give your passcode.

Early reports of iOS 11 are that hitting the home button 5 times quickly will put it into an emergency mode that requires a passcode to unlock.
posted by adamrice at 7:57 AM on August 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

There's actually a new feature in iOS 11 that lets you quickly lock out anything but a passcode (which, right now, you cannot be compelled to give up).
posted by uncleozzy at 7:58 AM on August 29, 2017 [7 favorites]

As others have mentioned, in the US, police can already compel you to use your fingerprints to unlock your phone.

And you should probably also be using a secondary passphrase on your OpenWhisper Signal. And be careful what else you're running on your phone, because anything reading the accelerometer in the background could be key-logging.

So, yeah: Don't use biometrics to secure your data, or if you do, use them in conjunction with other systems as part of an overall strategy.
posted by straw at 8:01 AM on August 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

You are correct. Nobody who cares about the security of their devices should be using biometrics.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:32 AM on August 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

iOS already disables biometrics (the fingerprint scanner) if there are too many failed attempts, or if the phone hasn't been unlocked with the passcode since rebooting. iOS 11 will make this an explicit user-triggered feature (and about time, too!).
posted by neckro23 at 8:36 AM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

It’s also worth noting that all the iOS 11 face recognition stuff is based on rumor at this point. The existence of some sort of “FaceID” functionally was leaked, but no one knows how it will work nor how it will affect security.
posted by sideshow at 1:07 PM on August 29, 2017

Face ID would need to have a backup passcode option, because it'd likely stop working with major face changes like "halloween makeup" and "shaved beard" and "got a black eye." I expect that if it does get implemented, there'll be an option to not have it be the default security because some people are going to have lifestyles where it's pretty much useless. (Actors, anyone who wears a mask - whether that's a niqab or a respiration filter, and so on.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:34 PM on August 29, 2017

Touch ID is also optional, you can turn it off. So I'm sure Face ID will be something you can elect to not use at all. People have different security preferences and needs with regard to their phones, and neither Touch ID or Face ID are super secure (neither are protected under the Fifth Amendment, and there are lots of stories about people using touch ID to open phones of sleeping people.
posted by skewed at 1:38 PM on August 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

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