updated 01:40 pm EDT, Fri September 20, 2013
Company asked to explain future plans
Senator Al Franken has sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, asking the executive to answer questions regarding the new iPhone 5s' fingerprint scanner. The Senator calls for specific details about how fingerprint data is obtained and stored, potential plans to provide access to the data for third-party apps, and how the company will respond to government requests for the identification data.
"It's clear to me that Apple has worked hard to secure this technology and implement it responsibly," Senator Franken writes in the letter, which was posted by 9to5Mac. "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."
Apple's website explains that the TouchID sensor merely stores fingerprint data as a mathematical representation, which cannot be reverse-engineered back into an image of a fingerprint. The data is contained in a "secure enclave" within the phone's A7 SoC, preventing access from third-party apps and the rest of the OS.
"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," Senator Franken adds.
Apple has yet to formally respond to the inquiry.