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Sen. Franken Has Concerns Over iPhone Fingerprint Tech

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77692_Bill Hudson WEB Bill Hudson
Bill Hudson has been with WCCO-TV since 1989. The native of Elk Rive...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Lines stretched outside the door of the Apple store Friday on Hennepin Avenue in Uptown. Customers like Annie Holicky-Michaels just couldn’t wait to get her hands on one.

“I’ve had my old one for about two years, so I just have to upgrade to the new technology, keep up to date,” she said.

That’s a familiar refrain whenever Apple comes out with its latest and greatest digital device. On Friday it was the iPhone 5s and 5c.

“The touch, I had to get that touch pad thing,” said Ryane Binmahfooz.

Among the features that make the phone worth standing in line for is its heightened security with fingerprint recognition software.

You no longer have to enter a four-digit security code to unlock the phone. Instead, users just press a fingerprint to the phone’s Touch ID device.

“Just security, it’s easier,” Binmahfooz said.  “If it gets stolen or something, no one can unlock it but you.”

But not so fast. That feature is what is raising a whole new set of security concerns over third-party access to a user’s stored fingerprint data.

And that concern is why U.S. Sen.  Al Franken, (D – Minn.), wrote a three-page letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday seeking assurances for users.

Franken is concerned about that fingerprint data falling into the wrong hands and creating a lifetime of identity theft problems for iPhone owners. Franken is chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law.

In the letter, Franken asks, “If hackers get a hold of your thumbprint, they could use it to identify and impersonate you for the rest of your life.”

Still, some customers like Morgan Southerland seem unconcerned.

“For now I’m going to trust in them, so it’s not so much of a concern at this point,” Southerland said.

Apple says stored fingerprint data is encrypted and access is blocked to all third-party apps.

But answers to Franken’s twelve specific questions should give added peace of mind, to this newest piece of technology.

You can read his full letter here.

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