Apple says that the images of your fingerprints are encrypted and stored on the phone’s chip, and that they’re never transmitted or stored online, by Apple or anyone else.
As I tweeted the news, many of my Twitter followers (I’m @pogue) were quick to scoff.
“Your fingerprint is not stored online? You are a funny man, Mr. Pogue,” wrote one.
“Ha ha! Soon as your finger touches it, you are scanned and in the system. NSA has your prints!” wrote another.
Look, I get that people are suspicious and cynical after all the revelations about the National Security Agency and its back doors into our phones and e-mail.
But using the fingerprint reader is optional; if you prefer a password, you can still use one. Indeed, you must also set up a password; the “enter password” box appears automatically after three failed efforts to use your fingerprint.
The point is that, according to Apple, only 50 percent of us bother to put a password on our phones, and that’s not good. Here’s a security protocol that’s far faster and more convenient than a password, but even more secure.
Furthermore, if you’re convinced that Apple is lying and the world is out to get you, why aren’t you equally worried about using a login password? How do you know Apple’s not transmitting that to the N.S.A., too?
If that’s your worry, I submit that you have much greater worries. You must also worry that Verizon is listening in to your phone calls, Visa is laughing its head off at your purchases, and Garmin is tracking your road trips on a map somewhere.