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iPhone X raises questions

| Friday, October 27, 2017

Earlier this year, Tim Cook made his yearly State of the Union address to the technology world in Cupertino, California. The audience was filled with tech geeks, Wall Street analysts, venture capitalists and those who couldn’t wait to see the new apple watch (the iPhone was just the backdrop). Not only will the company launch the new iPhone 8, but also its new iPhone X for the cheap as dirt price of $999.99. What makes this phone stand out is not only the all-glass front which looks more similar to a Samsung Android, but the fact that the home button fingerprint technology is no more. The phone will incorporate facial recognition technology as the new access point for consumers to unlock their phones.

While the new phone promises to bring lots of added benefits to the smartphone-centered world we live in, it does bring up interesting questions about security and privacy that we should all consider. Many security analysts have pointed out that facial recognition technology systems can be used to learn about the nitty gritty details of someone’s personal life. Your every move can be tracked, your political activities and even your romantic encounters can now be determined using just your face. Not only that, but the rise of artificial intelligence has opened new doors for how this data can be used. Apple has been very cautious and earned the praise of many security experts, as data privacy is a high priority for the company protecting its customers. I doubt anyone is going to have serious reservations about enrolling their face into their phone, and Apple makes it very convenient based on their new camera technology installed.

The larger issues to consider are twofold: many people have tried to raise awareness about the mega databases that technology companies including Google and Facebook are building. Federal and state officials are trying to curb the use and expansion of these databases to identify users based on their photos they upload. Biometrics is something that has a wide range of applications, but like any other advancement in technology, has the potential to raise a new set of issues and pushback from consumers. How much do we value our privacy? How paranoid are we about a hacker gaining access to our personal information? Out of all technology companies out there, Apple is most qualified to derail and handle these issues to make sure this doesn’t in any way derail sales. But the debate about this topic is ongoing, and critics make interesting arguments that deserve our attention. Let’s celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone, but also keep in mind that it will take time for society and also government regulations to adjust to the new uses of biometrics.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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