Why is a U.S. Senator Concerned About iPhone's New Fingerprint Sensor?

Why is a U.S. Senator Concerned About iPhone's New Fingerprint Sensor?It may seem odd that a U.S. senator is writing a letter to the head of a tech giant (Apple) about a new feature on its latest release, iPhone 5S.
But the Senator is Al Franken, D-Minnesota, who is chairman of the influential Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law.
And the new feature that worries the senator is the iPhone 5S’s much-celebrated fingerprint reader that lets users more easily lock and unlock their smartphone. The sensor effectively replaces the use of the somewhat more cumbersome password PIN.
Franken puts his concerns succinctly in the letter he sent Thursday to Apple CEO Tim Cook.
“Passwords are secret and dynamic; fingerprints are public and permanent,” wrote Sen. Franken. “If you don’t tell anyone your password, no one will know what it is. If someone hacks your password, you can change it—as many times as you want. You can’t change your fingerprints. You have only ten of them.”
Moreover, a password doesn’t uniquely identify its owner — but a fingerprint does, Franken added.
“Let me put it this way: if hackers get a hold of your thumbprint, they could use it to identify and impersonate you for the rest of your life,” the senator wrote.
In his letter, Franken asked a series of questions to help iPhone users better understand the steps Apple has taken to secure their private biometric information and how they intend to use this technology in the future.
Franken also asked Apple to explain the legal protections that the company would afford the fingerprint data generated by Touch ID.
This is not the first time Franken has raised similar issues with Apple products. In April of 2011, Franken asked Apple to address privacy concerns with its’ new operating system that security researchers said secretly stored users’ location data.
Read the Sept. 19 letter here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *