Senator Sends Letter to Tim Cook Over Touch ID Privacy Concerns

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.
    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:
    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
  2. macrumors 601

    Jul 11, 2008
    But it's ok, it's Apple. If this was Google collecting this information, you guys would be up in arms.
  3. macrumors regular


    Sep 6, 2003
    The Frigid Wasteland of MN

    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.
  4. macrumors newbie

    Jan 6, 2011
    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.
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 21, 2003
    Dallas, Tx
    What he really meant: "What are you collecting and how can we get our hands on it?"
  6. k1121j, Sep 20, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2013

    macrumors 6502a


    Mar 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    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
  7. macrumors 6502


    Sep 7, 2003
    Western USA
    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.
  8. macrumors 6502a


    Jan 22, 2003
  9. macrumors 68020

    May 20, 2011
    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.
  10. macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2012
    "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.
  11. macrumors 68020

    May 23, 2011
    yea rite

    now they are concerned about privacy? what about PRISM data?
  12. macrumors 68040

    Sep 4, 2009
    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.
  13. macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    Turn it off. Or get a 5C. Or another phone. Its all off to the NSA either way.
  14. macrumors 65816


    Jul 16, 2004
  15. macrumors 6502

    May 22, 2005

    Google has a blatant disregard for privacy, so I would delete the 'if' from the Google sentence.
  16. macrumors 6502

    May 13, 2011
    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.
  17. macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2012
    Meanwhile, hardly anyone has said a thing about Google's face unlock feature which has been out on Android for some time now.
  18. macrumors 6502


    Sep 7, 2003
    Western USA
    Not true.
  19. macrumors regular


    Sep 29, 2008
    Toronto, Canada
    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...
  20. macrumors 6502


    Mar 25, 2009
    So Apple has to worry about their competitor's cheap/poorly executed attempts at copying their technology?
  21. macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2012
    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
  22. macrumors 6502a


    Feb 26, 2008
    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...
  23. macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2010
    Aw, c'mon. His "Mobile Uplink" schtick was pretty funny.
  24. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 5, 2009
    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.
  25. macrumors 65816


    Jan 4, 2010
    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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