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AL FRANKEN SUITE

MINNESOTA SH-309
202-224-5641

lanited States Senate


WASHINGTON, DC 20510-2309

September 13, 2017

Mr. Tim Cook


Chief Executive Officer
Apple, Inc.
1 Apple Park Way
Cupertino,CA95014

Dear Mr. Cook:

I am writing to request more information on Face ID - Apple's new facial recognition


system and the core feature of the recently unveiled iPhone X. While details on the device and its
reliance on facial recognition technology are still emerging, I am encouraged by the steps that
Apple states it has taken to implement the system responsibly. However, substantial questions
remain about how Face ID will impact iPhone users' privacy and security, and whether the
technology will perform equally well on different groups of people. To offer clarity to the
millions of Americans who use your products, I ask that you provide more information on how
the company has processed these issues internally, as well as any additional steps that it intends
to take to protect its users.

Yesterday, Apple announced that the highly anticipated iPhone X features an edge to
edge screen, meaning that the device will not include a home button. Instead of relying on
Apple's fingerprint technology - Touch ID - a user will be able to unlock the phone and confirm
purchases through iOS by holding up the device and allowing it to recognize his or her face. Phil
Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of marketing said of the new technology, "[njothmg has
ever been simpler, more natural and effortless. Since the announcement, however, reporters,
advocates, and iPhone users have raised concerns about how Face ID could impact Americans'
fundamental right to privacy, speculated on the ways in which Apple could use faceprint data in
the future, and questioned the quality and security of the technology. For example, it has
previously been reported that many facial recognition systems have a higher rate of error when
tested for accuracy in identifying people of color, which may be explained by variety of factors,
including a lack of diversity in the faces that were used to train a system.2 Furthermore, some
have expressed concern that the system could be fooled, and thus the device unlocked, by a
photo or a mask of the owner of the device.

1 Andrea Chang, Ho\v the iPhoneX's Facial Recognition Technology Works, L.A. TIMES (Sept. 12, 2017),
http://www.latimes.conVbusmess/la-fi-apple-iphone-updates-face-id-how-the-iphone-x-s-facial-l 505248709-
htmlstory.html.
2 Clare Garvie & Jonathan Frankle, Facial-Recognition Software Might Have a Racial Bias Problem, THE ATLANTIC
(Apr. 7, 2016), https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/04/the-underlying-bias-of-facial-recognition-
systems/476991/.

WWW.FRANKEN.SENATE.GOV
As I have previously highlighted in communications with Apple regarding Touch ID,
there are significant differences between the privacy and security of passwords versus that of
biometric data, such as fingerprints and faceprints.3 Unlike a password, an individual's faceprint
is permanent, public, and uniquely identifies its owner. As a result, should a bad actor gain
access to the faceprint data that Face ID requires, the ramifications could last forever,
particularly if Apple's biometric technology comes to be used in other devices and settings.
Furthermore, Apple itself could use the data to benefit other sectors of its business, sell it to third
parties for surveillance purposes, or receive law enforcement requests to access it facial
recognition system - eventual uses that may not be contemplated by Apple customers. For these
reasons, it is incumbent on Apple to provide as must transparency on this complex new
technology as possible.

In light of the aforementioned uncertainties, I respectfully request that you respond to the
following questions by October 13, 2017:

1. Apple has stated that all faceprint data will be stored locally on an individual's device as
opposed to being sent to the cloud.
a. Is it currently possible - either remotely or through physical access to the device -
for either Apple or a third party to extract and obtain usable faceprint data from
the iPhone X?
b. Is there any foreseeable reason why Apple would decide to begin storing such
data remotely?

2. Apple has stated that it used more than one billion images in developing the Face ID
algorithm. Where did these one billion face images come from?

3. What steps did Apple take to ensure its system was trained on a diverse set of faces, in
terms of race, gender, and age? How is Apple protecting against racial, gender, or age
bias in Face ID?

4. In the unveiling of the iPhone X, Apple made numerous assurances about the accuracy
and sophistication of Face ID. Please describe again all the steps that Apple has taken to
ensure that Face ID can distinguish an individual's face from a photograph or mask, for
example.

5. Apple has stated that is has no plans to allow any third party applications access to the
Face ID system or its faceprint data. Can Apple assure its users that it will never share
faceprint data, along with the tools or other information necessary to extract the data,
with any commercial third party?

6. Can Apple confirm that it currently has no plans to use faceprmt data for any purpose
other than the operation of Face ID?

3 Letter from Senator Al Franken, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law,
to Tim Cook, CEO, Apple, Inc. (Sept. 19, 2013),
https://www.franken.senate.gov/files/documents/130919AppleTouchID.pdf.
7. Should Apple eventually determine that there would be reason to either begin storing
faceprint data remotely or use the data for a purpose other than the operation of Face ID,
what steps will it take to ensure users are meaningfully informed and in control of their
data?

8. In order for Face ID to function and unlock the device, is the facial recognition system
"always on/5 meaning does Face ID perpetually search for a face to recognize? If so:
a. Will Apple retain, even if only locally, the raw photos of faces that are used to
unlock (or attempt to unlock) the device?
b. Will Apple retain, even if only locally, the faceprints of individuals other than the
owner of the device?

9. What safeguards has Apple implemented to prevent the unlocking of the iPhone X when
an individual other than the owner of the device holds it up to the owner's face?

10. How will Apple respond to law enforcement requests to access Apple's faceprint data or
the Face ID system itself?

Again, I appreciate Apple's efforts to implement Face ID responsibly and your ongoing
willingness to engage with my office on issues of privacy and security. Thank you for your
prompt attention to this important matter, and please do not hesitate to contact me, or Leslie
Hylton on my staff at (202) 224-5641.

Sincerely^

Al Franken
U.S. Senator