On Monday, Apple introduced two new versions of the ever-popular iPhone: the 5S and 5C. While new versions of the iPhone always create buzz, the iPhone 5S comes equipped with a security feature that everyone can’t stop talking about: a fingerprint locking mechanism.
The new phone goes on sale September 20 and features an optional fingerprint sensor built into the Home button. The iPhone’s owner must “register” their individual fingerprint with the device, giving them the ability to unlock the phone by placing their finger or thumb on the Home button. Presumably, this new feature allows owners to make their phones impenetrable against hackers or thieves.
However, this new ability also poses several alarming questions. Is it safe to register one’s fingerprint with a device that could fall into someone else’s hands? Will hackers eventually be able to thwart the system and gain access to private information stored on the phone? Can a hacker download a user’s fingerprint and use it for financial gain? Is it safe for Apple to control what is essentially a massive database of fingerprints?
Whew. All of these questions will only be answered with time. Experts believe that the fingerprint reader is more of a gimmick than a valuable enhancement, but that doesn’t do much to assuage the worries of many. It is safe to say that Apple will sell plenty of these devices, and many Americans will be at the mercy of a fingerprint.