The Pros and Cons of Facial Recognition for Attorneys

Nothing is more permanent than change in the world of high tech. While technology has transformed the way that lawyers work, it has also introduced a host of new risks to lawyers and clients alike. Mobile phone users love Apple for being bold and innovative. But sometimes those innovations can make us more vulnerable to bad actors. One of the new innovations that concerns attorneys is the facial recognition technology introduced with the iPhone X. It’s always best to carefully weigh the risks before taking a leap into using new tech. So is the iPhone X a useful tool for the modern attorney? Read below for more details.

Facial Recognition is Optional

The most marketed selling point of the iPhone X is the technology that allows you to unlock your phone using nothing more than your face. But Face ID is not the only reason to upgrade to the iPhone X. So if you are purchasing your iPhone X for other reasons and don’t want to deal with the implications of facial recognition, the good news is that facial recognition is entirely optional. While the iPhone X no longer has a fingerprint sensor, it is possible to disable all facial recognition and rely only on a password to unlock your phone.

Passwords Have the Best Legal Protection

Lawyers who keep important client data in their phones should be aware that the law treats some locked phones differently than others. In certain situations, the government has used warrants to compel people to unlock their biometrically locked phones. Since this applies to fingerprint locked phones, it is likely that facial recognition will be treated the same way.

In both instances, it would be most prudent to disable biometric passwords, both facial and fingerprint recognition, in favor of traditional passwords which are still protected by the Fifth Amendment.

Facial Recognition May Give Greater Security

Regarding device security, Apple claims the odds that someone else’s fingerprint will unlock Touch ID is 1 in 50,000. However, with Face ID those odds decrease to 1 in 1,000,000. These stats indicate that the iPhone X is the more difficult device to hack. In addition, a replica face is harder to reproduce than a finger. If Apple is correct, moving from fingerprint to facial recognition should be a major security upgrade for attorneys.

Face ID Is Also Less Subtle

Concerned about accidental unlocks when your phone detects your face? Don’t be. The iPhone X requires the user to focus on the phone to unlock with Face ID. So according to Apple, accidental unlocks are impossible. But this feature is not without drawbacks. Subtly checking one’s phone during a meeting, for example, becomes that much harder with the need to turn and look straight at your iPhone’s screen. So if you’re in a client meeting and need to check your phone, if you’re using Face ID everyone around you will realize what you’re doing.

In conclusion, a responsible attorney can safely use the iPhone X and take advantage of the Face ID facial recognition technology. But it is not without drawbacks. The greatest of which, is that Face ID is likely to have less legal protection, unlike iPhone passwords. The technology is also still being tested; so it remains to be seen if all of Apple’s claims about the facial recognition’s security are accurate. The most conservative course of action for an attorney right now who uses an iPhone X would be to disable the Face ID feature entirely.

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