As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, Franken expressed concern over Apple’s facial recognition solution in a letter last month. Alongside routine questions regarding the basic operation of Face ID, and the underlying TrueDepth camera system, the senator sought clarification on Apple’s method of data handling. User privacy is a key concern for technology companies, which often collect sensitive information in a bid to better serve customers. Beyond consumer privacy, Franken questioned Apple over steps taken to protect against racial, gender and age bias. In its response, penned by VP for Public Policy Cynthia Hogan, Apple explained Face ID confirms the presence of an attentive face (via gaze detection), projects and reads a depth map of a user’s face and sends that information to the Secure Enclave for processing. Face ID data, which includes a mathematical representation of a user’s face, is encrypted and never leaves the device. Data sent to the Secure Enclave is not sent to Apple or included in device backups. Further, 2D face images and corresponding depth map information captured for normal unlock operations are immediately discarded once the mathematical representation is calculated for comparison against an enrolled Face ID profile, Apple said.
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