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1.19.21
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New York City Subway System Asks Apple to Improve Masked Face ID

__Jacob Banas__Filed Under: Sci-Fi Visions
Victor Tangermann

Mask On

New York City’s subway-running Metropolitan Transit Agency, fed up with folks taking off their masks to unlock their iPhones, wants Apple to improve their iPhones’ facial recognition features. In a letter to CEO Tim Cook obtained by The Associated Press, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Patrick Foye complained that too many riders were seen removing their masks to unlock phones even though Apple recently simplified the unlock process for people wearing masks.

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Some masks have been shown to thwart facial recognition programs, to the point of being a government concern last month. Before Apple’s software update in May, users wearing masks would have to wait a few seconds while face-recognition features tried and failed to authorize them before asking for a passcode. Now masked iPhone users are able to swipe up and enter a passcode immediately, so in theory, there shouldn’t be any need to remove a face covering while riding an MTA bus or train.

Now Delayed

The MTA Chairman’s letter comes at a unique time. MTA ridership, the fares from which the MTA depends on, plummeted almost 90% during the height of the coronavirus epidemic in New York City. The request to improve facial recognition comes just two months after two US Senators proposed banning police use of the technology and after previous arguments from experts that such technology should be banned from everyday life.

READ MORE: MTA asks Apple’s help to solve iPhone mask issues [AP]

More on Facial Recognition: Government leak: Cops terrified masks will block facial recognition