Facial Recognition, Differential Privacy, and Trade-Offs in Apple’s Latest OS Releases

Many users rely on cloud-based machine learning and data collection for everything from tagging photos of friends online to remembering shopping preferences. Although this can be useful and convenient, it can also be a user privacy disaster. With new machine learning features in its latest phone and desktop operating system releases, Apple is exploring ways to provide these kinds of services and collect related user data with more regard for privacy. Two of these features—on-device facial recognition and differential privacy—deserve a closer look from a privacy perspective. While we applaud these steps, it’s hard to know how effective they are without more information from Apple about their implementation and methods. Facial recognition and machine learning Let’s start with the new object and facial recognition feature for the Photos app. The…


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