Qualcomm has just unveiled its Snapdragon 8 Gen1: the new chip designed to power most of the smartphones top of the range 2022. But one of its features is a potential nightmare for your privacy.
With its new chip, Qualcomm wants to allow manufacturers to keep the front camera of smartphones ” always on “, Ie permanently on. The goal? Speed up the facial unlocking of devices. But at what cost?
Qualcomm always-on camera: you are filmed
” Your smartphone camera continuously and securely scans your face. Even if you don’t touch or lift it Enthusiastic Judd Heape, Vice President of Product Management at Qualcomm on the Tech Summit 2022 stage.
If we take this ad from the practical side alone, we can see the benefits. Qualcomm’s idea is enticing: your phone isn’t unlocked until you look at it. If you look away, or someone else glances at your screen, it can either lock itself or purposely hide certain notifications. To illustrate his feature, Qualcomm has chosen to stage a person in the kitchen, hands taken, who can unlock their smartphone with a glance to follow the recipe.
In reality, the American company does nothing other than provide a visual counterpart to the voice assistants of our smartphones which, let us remember, constantly listen to us if we have chosen to activate them. The Google Assistant, Siri and other Bixby are always listening. And the camera of our future smartphones will make sure to always keep an eye open.
A nightmare for privacy
But the difference is clear: voice assistants only “wake up” when a keyword (” OK Google ”) Is pronounced. The ” Qualcomm always-on camera will simply keep the shutter open until your paperclip comes into view.
Nothing much different, reminds The Verge, connected home accessories based on facial recognition. Connected hubs or smart doorbells also constantly scan your face to authenticate you. But these are not things that we carry with us throughout the day.
And it goes without saying that this feature poses a huge security problem: Android is already particularly bad at letting the user know which apps are currently using a smartphone’s microphone or camera. What if the said camera is now allowed to film everything permanently?
Keep in mind, however, that this is a possibility offered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen1, and that nothing obliges OEMs to take advantage of it. With Apple on the other side of the market spectrum, which is fully committed to data privacy, or even the advances in this area allowed by Android 12, it is hard to imagine a manufacturer trumpeting that it is about to film its customers. permanently with the camera of his new smartphone. But would that really surprise us?
Source: The Verge