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Can We Trust The iPhone’s New Face ID Feature?

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By Reymart Jan Sarigumba:

Apple removed the bezels in exchange for an edge-to-edge display that leaves no more space for a home button and its tried-and-tested TouchID (fingerprint sensor). Compared to the Touch ID which has proven itself reliable, same cannot be said to the Face ID at the moment, at least not yet.

Is this advanced biometric security technology really worth it? Here’s what the Face ID has in store for iPhone X users.

How Does It Work?

It comes with a number of sensors at the top of the device which includes an infrared camera, dot projector, and flood illuminator. The projector casts thousands of invisible dots onto your face, while the flood illuminator beams an infrared light that the infrared camera harnesses to scan the dots.

This will be converted into biometric data that goes to the iPhone X’s internal memory where it is analysed. Here, it checks whether the facial features of the person trying to unlock the device match the face that was saved when the Face ID was set up. If you are worried about your biometric data being sent to an external computer database, then worry not, because the processing of data is done on the device itself and not transmitted to a server which can be hacked.

The Pros Of Using Face ID

Can Adapt To Minor Changes

Since the iPhone X sports an infrared camera, using the Face ID in dimly lit environments and bright settings won’t affect its performance. Minor changes on the face like having makeup on or wearing eyewear or a hat won’t stop it from working either. This is because the software that the iPhone X houses can adapt to subtle changes. Unless you make significant changes to your face like shaving off a beard, then you to have to set up the Face ID again on your phone.

It’s Fool-Proof

Apple’s SVP, Phil Schiller said that, with the Face ID, there’s only a remarkably slim chance of one in a million that a random person could unlock the device with their face which is much better than the Touch ID fingerprint sensor’s one in 50,000.

However, if you have an evil twin, then you’ll need to back it up with a passcode. There is also a concern about whether the Face ID can be fooled using a photo or a mask of the user’s face. This stems from other faulty face recognition systems which can be fooled by photos from the users’ social media accounts.

But Apple is confident that this won’t be the case for the Face ID as they have done thorough testing on it. As for unlocking the device with face masks, this won’t work either since they have enlisted Hollywood studios to come up with realistic face masks.

The Cons Of Using Face ID

Unlocking The Device Feels Awkward

With the Face ID, you need to aim the device at your face and then swipe it up to unlock it, which appears to be a slow and awkward process. Plus, unlocking it does seem like you are taking a selfie as it won’t work if you’re looking away from the device or your eyes are shut. On the other hand, the Touch ID comes with an impressive design that matches to your normal usage. Although Apple believes that the Face ID is more secure and faster, nothing will still ever replace the convenience and practicality of the Touch ID.

Easier For Law Enforcement To Access The Device

If under duress by a mugger or law enforcement, it’s tough to cover your face if someone else coerces you to unlock the device against your will. Although you can always refuse to disclose your device’s passcode or look directly into its display to unlock it, police officers could incarcerate you for contempt unless your eyes cooperate. With that, Apple would still need to study this aspect and have it tested in court.

Conclusion

The Face ID may be a cutting-edge feature that takes a giant leap forward from the traditional Touch ID. However, the responses it has received so far from the cybersecurity community is somewhat mixed – some are praising it while others provide cautionary feedback.

The extent of Face ID’s security feature has yet to be fully determined. While Apple’s love-it-or-hate-it marketing approach may seem quite absurd, it’s worth noting that it’s also the same company who didn’t yield to the FBI when it demanded a backdoor to their iPhone’s security system. Apple chose privacy of their users over a fail-safe for the government against terrorists (using iPhones). Whether or not the agenda behind their decision is a good thing, it depends on what you believe in.

One thing is clear though, Apple has proven that they stand up for the privacy of their users. So, it would be less likely for the Face ID to veer away from that narrative. However, whether or not it’s more reliable than the Touch ID, it’s something that we have to see for ourselves when it gets released.


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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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