Some privacy advocates have been talking about the iPhone 5S and the fingerprint scanner and how the NSA is now going to have all our fingerprints and how it’s a really big (bad) deal.
I’m very much in favor of privacy, but I disagree with them on this.
Here’s my take on why it’s not a big deal:
If you’re worried the NSA has your fingerprint - I have bad news for you; you’re probably already too late.
I know the NSA has mine. I know because they took my fingerprint last time I visited New York. If you’ve been in the USA any time in the last8-10 years, it’s pretty likely, for some reason or another, at some point, the US Government has scanned your fingerprint. That ship sailed long ago.
Fingerprints alone are fairly useless.
Compared to your browsing history, which could be used to build a profile of you that would match you against certain characteristics that might flag you as ‘dangerous’, fingerprints are pretty useless.
There’s relatively little that they could do with it. Fingerprints are best for matching person X to situation Y, and even then the link is fairly tenuous because dating a fingerprint isn’t exactly easy. They can’t answer a question like “Was person X at place Y at time Z?”.
As far as “Us vs NSA” is concerned, this is not a big deal.
But do people really think they’re not being tracked already?! I’m sure the big bro can do with or without Apple.