I hadn't even thought of this when I heard the news the latest iPhone will have fingerprint recognition. I love my gadgets, and think it would be
handy never having to remember/enter a password again, but I already had qualms about this device. I know for a fact my fingerprints are on file as I
have a concealed pistol license, so it wouldn't really deter me too much to know the gubment can snatch up my fingerprints, but for others I imagine
that prospect is a little frightening. I hope it is anyway.
Al Franken recently asked CEO Tim Cook about the proliferation of these fingerprint readers in tech.
"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. And you leave them on everything you touch; they are definitely not a secret. What's more, a password doesn't uniquely identify
its owner—a fingerprint does. 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."
I think he made a good point, and glad he brought the issue to my attention. With only ten fingers, you're not going to be able to have more than 10
passwords to activate the phone. I'm sure you can opt out of using the thing, but most won't, and then there is the very scary thought of the Feds
snarfing up all your prints.
Let's not forget about the potential for ne'er do wells to start snarfing up these prints. Everything has a a workaround, and I'm sure with enough
motivation this new tech will become compromised. While highly unlikely, it would be theoretically possible for someone to get your fingerprint(s)
and plant them.
I don't think Apple is being forced into introducing this to give the Feds more keys to unlock your personal life, I think it's smart business. The
real question is whether or not it's smart for the consumer to use it. All this complacency and 'it won't happen to me' or 'I don't care who
has my prints' is a push down a slippery slope. A very light one perhaps, but nevertheless a push.
Here are more of the questions posed:
(1) Is it possible to convert locally stored fingerprint data into a digital or visual format that can be used by third parties?
(2) Is it possible to extract and obtain fingerprint data from an iPhone? If so, can this be done remotely, or with physical access to the
(10) Under American intelligence law, the Federal Bureau of Investigation can seek an order requiring the production of "any tangible thing
(including books, records, papers, documents, and other items)" if they are deemed relevant to certain foreign intelligence investigations. See 50
U.S.C. § 1861. Does Apple consider fingerprint data to be "tangible things" as defined in the USA Patriot Act?
I don't think it's going to matter what Apple considers tangible, I think it matters if the FBI changes their mind or already does consider
fingerprints to be. I have a sneaking suspicion they do.
Let's be real hear, the FBI isn't the concern. I think we all know who is, and they seem to have no issue with bending and skirting the law. See
all the people that admitted to spying on loved ones. Now imagine one is in some way compromised either financially, by blackmail or perhaps a lover
into planting some prints at a murder scene.
I know this is far fetched, but shoot it's a conspiracy site and either way I would rather people's personal data isn't mined and without cause.
What do you guys think?