Apple Officially Announces Fingerprint ID: Could They Give the Feds Your Biometric Info?

9/10/13. Apple Officially Announces Fingerprint ID: Could They Give the Feds Your Biometric Info?

“Apple’s event at its California headquarters Tuesday confirmed many rumors that have been building in the past months and weeks. One of them is a futuristic fingerprint identification system, which has been concerning some, especially in light of the National Security Agency’s collection of data from cellphone companies.

In introducing two new iPhone models at the event, Apple unveiled the ability to unlock the new iPhone 5S  with a feature called TouchID.

Phil Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, said TouchID reads fingerprints at a “detailed level,” calling it “fun and easy” to teach the 5S about your fingerprint.

But Apple alleviated some privacy fears saying the fingerprints would not be stored on its servers, meaning it would not have access to the biometric code even if the NSA were to request it of them.

The point of fingerprint identification is to add a level of heightened security, but recent revelations that the NSA could access contacts, call lists, SMS traffic, notes and location data had some concerned about over putting this biometric data on a mobile device.

“Of course, Apple is unlikely to want to get involved in this business itself, but with doubts raised about just how closely tech firms are cooperating (or should we say, bending over backwards) with agencies like the NSA, anyone concerned about a dystopian future is likely to be wary of this,” Mike Wheatley for the computer science blog Silicon Angle wrote of the issue ahead of Apple’s announcement. “Apple hasn’t said what it will do with this data, but it might decided to keep its user’s fingerprints in some kind of central repository – which could well mean that the NSA has unrestricted access to them.”

With Apple’s announcement refusing this central database idea, privacy advocates might be wiping their brows. But as MacWorld pointed out, the security of a fingerprint identification system isn’t technically foolproof when it comes to thieves.”

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