Apple accused of racism after Face ID fails to distinguish between Chinese iPhone X users

Apple accused of racism after Face ID fails to distinguish between Chinese iPhone X users

There have been several reports of Apple's Face ID failing to distinguish between users

By Sophie CurtisTechnology And Science Editor 18:11, 21

Apple has been accused of racism, amid reports that the Face ID authentication technology on its new iPhone X is failing to distinguish between Chinese users.

A man from Shanghai bought his wife the new gadget soon after it was released last month, but she was shocked to discover it could be unlocked by her teenage son.

The man, identified only by his surname Liu, phoned Apple's customer service hotline to report the problem.

"Our son was using it and didn't know the password", he said, according to Shandong TV Station .

He was told it was an isolated case and was due to the fact his wife and son look very similar. However, Apple has reportedly launched an investigation into the Liu family's claims.

This is not the first reported incident of Chinese users being able to unlock each other's iPhone Xs.

Last week, AsiaOne reported that a woman from Nanjing discovered her colleague was able to unlock her phone using Face ID.

When Madam Yan first called Apple's hotline to complain about the problem, the customer service representative told her it was "impossible".

However, when pair took the phone to the store to prove what had happened, they found they could unlock all the phones in the store.

"We look quite ordinary. What if someone picks up my phone and opens it?" said Madam Yan's colleague, Madam Wan.

"Then they could buy stuff through my phone and make payments. We don't have any sense of security."

Apple claims the probability that a random person in the population could look at your iPhone X and unlock it using Face ID is approximately one in a million. However, there are some caveats.

If you have a twin or a sibling who looks very similar to you, the probability of a false match is higher.

Hackers have already found a way to hoodwink the iPhone X's Face ID security system.

It is also higher for children under the age of 13, because their distinct facial features may not have fully developed, according to Apple.

The company claims to have worked with people all over the world to ensure the product accessible to people of different ethnicities.

"We worked with participants from around the world to include a representative group of people accounting for gender, age, ethnicity, and other factors," said Cynthia Hogan, Apple's vice president of public policy for the Americas, in October.

"We augmented the studies as needed to provide a high degree of accuracy for a diverse range of users."


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