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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Not an image. Ok...
by Flatland_Spider on Thu 12th Sep 2013 01:01 UTC
Flatland_Spider
Member since:
2006-09-01

There are still questions.

Presumably this could be used to collect all of the fingerprints of people who touch the phone. iOS is built so that everyone has to touch the home button multiple times during a session. Is the sensor still active outside of areas that need authentication, and does it store a list of the incorrect fingerprints?

Then there is the anonymity aspect. How easy is the fingerprint signature to reverse? Now there is proof who the phone belongs to.

Then there is the question of how much tracking is Apple using this for. Do they have a log of when the phone has been used and by whom?

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