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Senator concerned about Apple’s fingerprint tech

  • A woman woman stands in line, outside the Apple Store on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Fla., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. Friday is the first time Apple is releasing two different iPhone models at once. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

    A woman woman stands in line, outside the Apple Store on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Fla., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. Friday is the first time Apple is releasing two different iPhone models at once. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

  • A woman woman stands in line, outside the Apple Store on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Fla., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. Friday is the first time Apple is releasing two different iPhone models at once. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

    A woman woman stands in line, outside the Apple Store on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Fla., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. Friday is the first time Apple is releasing two different iPhone models at once. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

  • Apple sales associates cheer customers waiting in line for the latest versions of the iPhone, before the opening day of sales of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5C at the Apple store at the Americana at Brand mall in Glendale, Calif., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    Apple sales associates cheer customers waiting in line for the latest versions of the iPhone, before the opening day of sales of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5C at the Apple store at the Americana at Brand mall in Glendale, Calif., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

  • Apple sales associates cheer customers waiting in line for the latest versions of the iPhone, before the opening day of sales of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5C at the Apple store at the Americana at Brand mall in Glendale, Calif., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    Apple sales associates cheer customers waiting in line for the latest versions of the iPhone, before the opening day of sales of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5C at the Apple store at the Americana at Brand mall in Glendale, Calif., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2013, file photo, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini yells instructions in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Southern Mississippi in Lincoln, Neb. Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman and athletic director Shawn Eichorst say they believe football coach Bo Pelini is sincere in his apology for a profane rant against fans two years ago and the university is ready to put the matter to rest. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2013, file photo, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini yells instructions in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Southern Mississippi in Lincoln, Neb. Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman and athletic director Shawn Eichorst say they believe football coach Bo Pelini is sincere in his apology for a profane rant against fans two years ago and the university is ready to put the matter to rest. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

  • A customer examines a new iPhone 5s at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the day the new iPhone 5c and 5s models go on sale. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

    A customer examines a new iPhone 5s at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the day the new iPhone 5c and 5s models go on sale. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

  • A customer examines a new iPhone 5s at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the day the new iPhone 5c and 5s models go on sale. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

    A customer examines a new iPhone 5s at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the day the new iPhone 5c and 5s models go on sale. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

  • A customer examines a new iPhone 5s at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the day the new iPhone 5c and 5s models go on sale. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

    A customer examines a new iPhone 5s at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the day the new iPhone 5c and 5s models go on sale. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

  • Franken-071009-18449 0003

    Franken-071009-18449 0003

  • A woman woman stands in line, outside the Apple Store on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Fla., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. Friday is the first time Apple is releasing two different iPhone models at once. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
  • A woman woman stands in line, outside the Apple Store on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Fla., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. Friday is the first time Apple is releasing two different iPhone models at once. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
  • Apple sales associates cheer customers waiting in line for the latest versions of the iPhone, before the opening day of sales of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5C at the Apple store at the Americana at Brand mall in Glendale, Calif., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
  • Apple sales associates cheer customers waiting in line for the latest versions of the iPhone, before the opening day of sales of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5C at the Apple store at the Americana at Brand mall in Glendale, Calif., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
  • FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2013, file photo, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini yells instructions in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Southern Mississippi in Lincoln, Neb. Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman and athletic director Shawn Eichorst say they believe football coach Bo Pelini is sincere in his apology for a profane rant against fans two years ago and the university is ready to put the matter to rest. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)
  • A customer examines a new iPhone 5s at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the day the new iPhone 5c and 5s models go on sale. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
  • A customer examines a new iPhone 5s at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the day the new iPhone 5c and 5s models go on sale. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
  • A customer examines a new iPhone 5s at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the day the new iPhone 5c and 5s models go on sale. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
  • Franken-071009-18449 0003

Sen. Al Franken is asking Apple for more clarity on privacy and security concerns he has with its use of fingerprint recognition technology in the new iPhone 5S.

The iPhone 5S, which went on sale yesterday, includes a fingerprint sensor that lets users tap the phone’s home button to unlock their phone, rather than enter a four-digit passcode.

But Franken said that the fingerprint system could be potentially disastrous for users if someone does eventually hack it. While a password can be kept a secret and changed if it’s hacked, he said, fingerprints are permanent and are left on everything a person touches, making them far from a secret.

“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,” the Minnesota Democrat said in a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple Inc. officials didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment on Franken’s letter.

But the Cupertino, Calif., company has said that this kind of technology significantly boosts security for users.

According to Apple, the fingerprint data is stored on the phone in a place that’s inaccessible to other apps and to Apple’s remote servers.

Apple also has put in a number of safeguards, including requiring a passcode after a restart and 48 hours of inactivity.

In addition, Apple says it’s not possible to take an existing fingerprint and convert it into something the phone will recognize, as the sensor reads a sub-epidermal layer of the finger.

Joe Schumacher, security consultant at Neohapsis, said Apple’s fingerprint technology seems different and possibly more accurate than older readers, so most people shouldn’t need to worry. But he said it could still be “a risk for any possible targeted individual,” and much of the risk comes from not knowing many details.

“There is a big security risk with Touch ID without explicit understanding of how Apple is handling this data from storage to sharing with other entities,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, anyone worried about the fingerprint scan has the option of disabling the feature and sticking with the passcode.

Legacy Comments1

democrat "Saturday Night Live Comedian " Frankin should worry about what the democrats and Obama are doing spying on every single American at the NSA

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