New Google Pixel 4 has One Big Privacy Issue with Face Unlock Feature

Google has created their own version of the face recognition unlock system for their Pixel 4 and 4 XL. Google’s system is similar to that of Apple’s Face ID technology and has changed their fingerprint authentication on the Pixel 4 to solely implement this method of phone unlock. However, there’s a huge privacy issue with their system: the phone can be unlocked even if your eyes are fully closed. 

The phone can be unlocked by someone else if the device is held up to your face – eyes closed or not. The unlock system will also work if you’re asleep and someone wanted to unlock your phone without you knowing. Contrary to Google’s unlock system, Apple’s requires your eyes to be fully open to unlock, thus making it more secure for its device users. 

Whether or not Pixel has intentions to add more security to the face unlock system remains unknown. A Google representative commented on the issue in a statement to The Verge, explaining: “We don’t have anything specific to announce regarding future features or timing, but like most of our products, this feature is designed to get better over time with future software updates”. With nothing yet officially announced, the privacy issue still stands, allowing a nosy friend or significant other to access a user’s device at ease. 

As of now, the only way to combat this issue is a lockdown function equipped on Android phones. Lockdown can be accessed through the power menu, and once pressed, the device disables the face unlock feature until the user’s PIN code is entered. If you choose to do lockdown, notifications will not be displayed on your phone screen. Bluetooth devices also lose the ability to unlock the phone.

Is the “10-Year Challenge” a Ploy for Facebook to Use Their Facial Recognition Software?

The “10-Year Challenge” is the new trend taking social media by storm. Essentially, the challenge involves a user posting their first profile picture and comparing it with their most recently uploaded 2019 profile photo. There are have been over 5.2 million submissions of photos using the trend’s respective hashtags on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.

This challenge has caused quite the reaction out of social media users. Kate O’Neill–a writer for Wired–wrote an op-ed piece on the reasoning behind this challenge, commenting on how Facebook could be harvesting data for their facial recognition technology in order to track how people age and what they would look like when they get older. O’Neill continued to explain how having people participate in the “10-Year Challenge” may help Facebook identify who you are, since many do not post their photos in chronological order. Users, however, have argued that since Facebook already has access to personal photos that dates to 10+ years, there wouldn’t be any real need to collect data through this challenge.

In response to such claims, Facebook has outwardly denied having any part in creating this challenge. They insist that they gain nothing from this meme going viral. Even though Facebook does have facial recognition technology, users have the option to turn it off or on for one’s convenience.

Facebook has been involved with facial recognition for a while. They have technology to recognize who is tagged in photos. Whether or not you decide to turn the option of facial recognition off or on, your photos will always be somewhere on Facebook. As food for thought, however, there is no law that prohibits Facebook from not using such technology to their advantage.

Paypal Tests Payments Using Facial Recognition

Some mobile apps will allow you to send payments to vendors either by exchanging email addresses or scanning a bar code. With such ease of payments, how can you be sure that no one else can access that information?

Losing your phone could make you vulnerable to significant financial distress. To help improve security and push towards a wallet-less marketplace, PayPal is experimenting with the use of facial recognition.

Paypal

In the UK, PayPal has chosen twelve vendors to offer this new option. Customers with the PayPal app must first agree to pay for an item on their mobile device, then the vendor will see their photo on their POS, and if it matches who is in front of them, the cashier will then click the photo, allowing the payment to go through.

PayPal expects to roll out the facial recognition technology to over 2,000 vendors in the UK by the end of the year, and worldwide by 2016.