Qualcomm’s new always-on smartphone camera is a privacy nightmare

Qualcomm’s new always-on smartphone camera is a privacy nightmare


The front-facing camera on a Samsung smartphone. Next year’s Qualcomm processor will allow these cameras to always scan for your face, even when you’re not using the phone. | Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

“Your phone’s front camera is always securely looking for your face, even if you don’t touch it or raise to wake it.” That’s how Qualcomm Technologies vice president of product management Judd Heape introduced the company’s new always-on camera capabilities in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor set to arrive in top-shelf Android phones early next year.

Depending on who you are, that statement can either be exciting or terrifying. For Qualcomm, it thinks this new feature will enable new use cases, like being able to wake and unlock your phone without having to pick it up or have it instantly lock when it no longer sees your face.

But for those of us with any sense of how modern technology is used to violate our privacy, a camera on our…

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