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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:26 PM   #1
MacRumors
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Senator Sends Letter to Tim Cook Over Touch ID Privacy Concerns




Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook expressing concern over the new Touch ID fingerprint sensor built into the iPhone 5s, which went on sale earlier today.

In the letter (PDF), the Senator, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, says he is an iPhone owner and is concerned about the use of fingerprints to unlock the device.
Quote:
It's clear to me that Apple has worked hard to secure this technology and implement it responsibly. The iPhone 5S reportedly stores fingerprint data locally "on the chip" and in an encrypted format. It also blocks third-party apps from accessing Touch ID. Yet important questions remain about how this technology works, Apple's future plans for this technology, and the legal protections that Apple will afford it. I should add that regardless of how carefully Apple implements fingerprint technology, this decision will surely pave the way for its peers and smaller competitors to adopt biometric technology, with varying protections for privacy.
Franken goes on to ask twelve separate questions of Cook, including:

- If it's possible to convert locally-stored fingerprint data into a format that can be used by third parties.

- If it's possible to extract and obtain fingerprint data from an iPhone 5s either remotely or with physical access to the device.

- What diagnostic information the iPhone 5s sends to Apple about the Touch ID system.

- Whether Apple considers fingerprint data to be the "subscriber information" or "electronic communication transactional records", the "contents" of communications, customer or subscriber records, or a "subscriber number or identity" as defined in the Stored Communications Act, or a "tangible thing" as defined in the USA PATRIOT Act.

The last group of questions relates to when and if Apple could be required to disclose fingerprint information to U.S. Government law enforcement agencies.

Apple, for its part, has posted an extensive knowledge base article about the security benefits of the Touch ID system, though it only discloses broad details about how the iPhone 5s stores fingerprint data, but nevertheless, it may answer some of the questions that Senator Franken asked:
Quote:
Touch ID does not store any images of your fingerprint. It stores only a mathematical representation of your fingerprint. It isn't possible for your actual fingerprint image to be reverse-engineered from this mathematical representation. iPhone 5s also includes a new advanced security architecture called the Secure Enclave within the A7 chip, which was developed to protect passcode and fingerprint data. Fingerprint data is encrypted and protected with a key available only to the Secure Enclave. Fingerprint data is used only by the Secure Enclave to verify that your fingerprint matches the enrolled fingerprint data. The Secure Enclave is walled off from the rest of A7 and as well as the rest of iOS. Therefore, your fingerprint data is never accessed by iOS or other apps, never stored on Apple servers, and never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else. Only Touch ID uses it and it can't be used to match against other fingerprint databases.
Senator Franken gave Tim Cook and Apple thirty days to answer the questions and, though it is not a subpoena and Apple is not required to respond, the company is likely to cooperate.

This is not the first time that Senator Franken has interacted with Apple -- in 2011, he asked both Apple and Google to require clear privacy policies for apps sold on their app stores. He also introduced a bill to help protect customer location data.

Article Link: Senator Sends Letter to Tim Cook Over Touch ID Privacy Concerns
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:28 PM   #2
Razeus
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But it's ok, it's Apple. If this was Google collecting this information, you guys would be up in arms.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:28 PM   #3
MacIke
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Nsa

I am far more concerned about the NSA and the issue of spying then I am of some company. A company has to actually respond to the customer. Whereas the government does not give a rats ass.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:29 PM   #4
JimDeGuz
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My 24 Hour Fitness converted to fingerprint scanning after a 10-digit keypad input which they tell you should be your phone number...sounds like a conspiracy. Tracking your workout is great. Punishment for missing leg day isn't.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:29 PM   #5
Superdrive
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What he really meant: "What are you collecting and how can we get our hands on it?"
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:30 PM   #6
k1121j
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Give me a break

Does this guy want to look good or something. If i am not mistaken this is not the first consumer product with fingerprint technology ( example all those laptops out there come to mind) and as far as i can tell Apple has gone further to secure your identity where there device. SOOO get off there back and be logical you silly senator

Last edited by k1121j; Sep 20, 2013 at 12:31 PM. Reason: grammer
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:31 PM   #7
DesterWallaboo
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There are legitimate concerns raised in this letter to Apple I hadn't considered. The possibility that your fingerprint information might simply be available to federal law enforcement under the Patriot Act is rather chilling. I'd like to know the answer to that question before I buy my next iPhone.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:31 PM   #8
starflyer
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This guy...

http://landing.newsinc.com/shared/vi...t&VID=24874166
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:31 PM   #9
unplugme71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superdrive View Post
What he really meant: "What are you collecting and how can we get our hands on it?"
The government would love this data. Imagine every citizen having their fingerprint added to the database?

Granted not everyone owns an Apple device, but when other devices start implementing this, it'll be in the homes all across America and beyond.

I'd like Touch ID to open my car door and house.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:32 PM   #10
cgk.emu
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"Concerns" or..."hey we could use this..."

Yeah, go ahead and call me a tin-foil hat type. It shows that you really can't think for yourself.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:32 PM   #11
Tiger8
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yea rite

now they are concerned about privacy? what about PRISM data?
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:32 PM   #12
CFreymarc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superdrive View Post
What he really meant: "What are you collecting and how can we get our hands on it?"
If it is "Me, Al Fraken." You can be sure it is self serving. IMO, this whole Touch ID introduction will make or break the whole mass-market bio-metric business.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:32 PM   #13
roadbloc
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Turn it off. Or get a 5C. Or another phone. Its all off to the NSA either way.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:33 PM   #14
croooow
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Yeah, lets take this guy seriously...
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:33 PM   #15
JackieTreehorn
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Originally Posted by Razeus View Post
But it's ok, it's Apple. If this was Google collecting this information, you guys would be up in arms.

Google has a blatant disregard for privacy, so I would delete the 'if' from the Google sentence.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:33 PM   #16
repoman27
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I'm pretty sure that if you have physical access to a touchscreen device, there are ways to get the owner's fingerprint data—even if the device lacks a fingerprint scanner.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:35 PM   #17
jyen
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Meanwhile, hardly anyone has said a thing about Google's face unlock feature which has been out on Android for some time now.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:35 PM   #18
DesterWallaboo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by repoman27 View Post
I'm pretty sure that if you have physical access to a touchscreen device, there are ways to get the owner's fingerprint data—even if the device lacks a fingerprint scanner.
Not true.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:35 PM   #19
HiVolt
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PC laptops have had fingerprint sensors for years... Why isn't he writing Lenovo, Dell, HP?

This guy is just "concerned" to get his name in the news with a big name company like Apple and the new phone release, makes it look like he cares for his people...
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:36 PM   #20
ck2875
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Originally Posted by MacRumors View Post

I should add that regardless of how carefully Apple implements fingerprint technology, this decision will surely pave the way for its peers and smaller competitors to adopt biometric technology, with varying protections for privacy.
So Apple has to worry about their competitor's cheap/poorly executed attempts at copying their technology?
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:36 PM   #21
robertjamesm
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Touch ID

Apple should include on their next macbook pro with retina the touch ID sensor on the power key or touchpad.


I should be the next S Jobs
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:36 PM   #22
Smith288
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Perhaps Al should have read any number of Apple blogs detailing the workings of the fingerprint technology?

I can't believe this guy got into congress...
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:36 PM   #23
jon3543
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Originally Posted by croooow View Post


Yeah, lets take this guy seriously...
Aw, c'mon. His "Mobile Uplink" schtick was pretty funny.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:37 PM   #24
HarryPot
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DesterWallaboo View Post
There are legitimate concerns raised in this letter to Apple I hadn't considered. The possibility that your fingerprint information might simply be available to federal law enforcement under the Patriot Act is rather chilling. I'd like to know the answer to that question before I buy my next iPhone.
From what Apple says, even if the Government asked for it, it would be impossible for Apple to get that information. It is stored in a part of the chip that has no communication to Apple servers, or any other servers for the matter.

This is what I understood at least.
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Old Sep 20, 2013, 12:37 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Razeus View Post
But it's ok, it's Apple. If this was Google collecting this information, you guys would be up in arms.
Well, since Apple has made clear it is not collecting the data, and it resides only on the phone's chipset, your point is sort of irrelevant.
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