Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 11th Sep 2013 22:16 UTC
Apple

Apple's new iPhone 5S, which comes with a fingerprint scanner, won't store actual images of users' fingerprints on the device, a company spokesman confirmed Wednesday, a decision that could ease concerns from privacy hawks.

Rather, Apple's new Touch ID system only stores "fingerprint data", which remains encrypted within the iPhone's processor, a company representative said Wednesday. The phone then uses the digital signature to unlock itself or make purchases in Apple's iTunes, iBooks or App stores.

In practice, this means that even if someone cracked an iPhone's encrypted chip, they likely wouldn't be able to reverse engineer someone's fingerprint.

This seems relatively safe - but then again, only if you trust that government agencies don't have some sort of backdoor access anyway. This used to be tinfoil hat stuff, but those days are long gone.

I dislike the characterisation of privacy "hawks", though. It reminds me of how warmongering politicians in Washington are referred to as 'hawks", and at least in my view, it has a very negative connotation.

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RE: wait
by flypig on Wed 11th Sep 2013 23:28 UTC in reply to "wait"
flypig
Member since:
2005-07-13

They do store some data on the device (at least according to the article), it's just not an actual image of your fingerprint. This probably isn't unusual for fingerprint readers: I believe only certain features are needed to repeat an identification.

Unfortunately the conclusion that "this means that even if someone cracked an iPhone’s encrypted chip, they likely wouldn’t be able to reverse engineer someone’s fingerprint" doesn't necessarily follow. It seems like a strange claim to make anyway. What exactly is it that they think the "privacy hawks" are worried about?

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