After Apple introduced the Touch ID fingerprint scanner in the iPhone 5s late last year, Samsung followed suit a few months back by putting a similar scanner in the Galaxy S5’s home button. In fact the scanners are being adopted by many high-end smartphones even though there are legitimate concerns about the long-term safety and security of biometric data. U.S. Senator Al Franken has written a letter to Samsung raising some questions about the safety of the fingerprint scanner on Galaxy S5.
The Minnesota Democrat writes this letter after a team of German researchers demonstrated how easy it is to fool the Galaxy S5’s fingerprint scanner. They used a rubber mold crafted from latent fingerprints that were lifted off the phone’s touchscreen display. Even Touch ID was fooled in this exact same way but since Samsung hasn’t clamped down on the fingerprint scanner like Apple has, there’s certainly cause of concern.
Unlike Apple, Samsung allows unlimited attempts at fingerprint recognition without requiring a password. Touch ID can only be used to gain access or approve purchases on iTunes Store. Samsung lets people make PayPal payments using the fingerprint sensor, so as Sen. Al Franken writes, this may be potentially abused by “bad actors.”
In his letter the senator asks more than a dozen questions such as how third party apps interact with users’ biometric information and if it can be accessed remotely. He also asks Samsung if it can assure users that the information won’t be shared with any government. Franken writes that it is not his intention to discourage the adoption of this technology, he simply wants to urge companies to “deploy this technology in the most secure manner.”