Apr
23
2019

Apple’s billion-dollar face ID system fornicates the canine?

As in, that’s what this guy is suing Apple for after a wrongful arrest:

[Ousmane Bah] was still a high-school student when he received a summons from a court in Boston accusing him of stealing $1,200 worth of Apple products — in particular Apple Pencils — from an Apple Store in Boston.

According to the suit, Bah had never been to Boston and was attending his senior prom in Manhattan on the day authorities said the theft took place.

Via Fark Geek.

Bah was later charged with a bunch of similar charges in multiple states (all of which have been thrown out, except for one in New Jersey). The suit relies in large part to a NYPD detective’s statement that Apple’s facial-recognition algorithms have wrongly learned to associate Bah with whoever the actual shoplifter. And, to be fair to Apple: they’re claiming that they don’t use this technology in their stores. Which means one of three things likely happened here:

  • Apple’s lying, and they actually do use something like Face ID to scan for shoplifters. If that’s true, then Apple’s utterly hosed for lying about it. Guy won’t get a billion, but he’ll get a lot.
  • Apple’s telling the truth about the Face ID thing, but they screwed this guy over through a false positive in some other fashion. If that’s true, the guy’s not getting a billion in a much emphatic sort of way. This is probably Apple’s best-case scenario.
  • The plaintiff actually did rip off a store in New Jersey, and then got blamed for all the other ones (whether by a malfunctioning Face ID system, or not). That’s not good news for Apple either way, because: it’s unlikely that they’d get the hypothetical shoplifter convicted at this point (far too easy at trial for his lawyer to point out the documented false positives); Apple will still be stuck trying to figure out where the mistake that’s generating false positives is lurking; and there’s going to be a lot of people trying to appeal past shoplifting convictions on the basis of the questions raised in this case.

Exit question: how did Apple get the cops to make all these arrests, anyway?

Moe Lane

PS: A look at the suit itself is interesting, by the way. Particularly the part where Apple suddenly discovered exculpatory surveillance footage with regard to the Boston charges, after claiming that no such footage existed. Sufficiently exculpatory that the Boston DA dropped the charges once the footage became available, too.

4 Comments

  • jetty says:

    I switched from iOS to Android last year. Recently I have been thinking about moving back to Apple. Yet no sooner do I entertain such a thought then stories like this appear. I know, I know, Google does not have my best interest at heart either. Think I’ll move to a dumb phone.

    • Daniel Wallace says:

      I use a dumb phone. I’m on the computer enough when I’m home, I don’t need to be carrying one around when I’m out or at work.

      • Finrod says:

        People like to make fun of my flip phone, but it’s waterproof, shockproof, goes for weeks on a charge, and it’s more than 5 years old.

        • Rockphed says:

          My dumb phone is 8 years old and pretty much only needs a new battery to last another 8 years.

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