Franken Worried About iPhone's Fingerprint Scanner

Writes open letter to Apple asking for answers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2013 4:07 PM CDT
Franken Worried About iPhone's Fingerprint Scanner
A customer configures the fingerprint scanner technology built into iPhone 5S at an Apple store in Beijing on Friday.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

The new iPhone 5S that hit the market today has a fingerprint scanner designed to replace the conventional password system, and that scares the bejeezus out of Sen. Al Franken. In an open letter to Apple's Tim Cook, the Minnesota senator asks for more information about the security of the system and its potential vulnerability to hackers, reports CNET. The heart of his concern:

  • "Passwords are secret and dynamic; fingerprints are public and permanent. 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."

Franken goes on to ask a series of questions, including, "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 device?" No specific response yet from Apple, which has previously insisted that the fingerprint data is safely encrypted and off limits to third-party apps. "Ironically, the information that Franken is asking for could be just the details that crackers need to exploit Touch ID," writes Parmy Olson at Forbes. They're already hard at work, and this website is providing updates. (More Al Franken stories.)

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