Apple Face ID fails to distinguish identical twins

Occurred: October 2017

Apple's Face ID authentication system failed to distinguish two different sets of identical twins trying to unlock the iPhone X. The findings raised questions about the reliability of the system.

In a test, Mashable had one twin register their face in Face ID and confirm it unlocked for them, and then had the second twin hold the smartphone to their face to see if they could get into their brother's device. In both tests, the phone was successfully unlocked using the face of the non-registered twin.

Apple had warned Face ID may not be able to distinguish identical twins: 'The chance that a random person in the population could look at your iPhone X and unlock it with their face is about one in one million. Of course, the statistics are lowered if that person shares a close genetic relationship with you. So, for example, if you happen to have an evil twin, you really need to protect your sensitive data with a passcode.'

Operator: Apple
Developer: Apple
Country: USA
Sector: Consumer goods
Purpose: Strengthen security
Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Security; Privacy

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: August 2023