A Bite-Sized News Sandwich for December 4, 2013

In this article at Forbes, Jayson DeMers speculates that one of the top 7 technology trends of 2014 will be the option to use Apple’s new TouchID technology for a wider range of purposes. Right now TouchID can secure your iPhone 5s and streamline purchases from Apple using the device, but DeMers predicts that its use will be expanded not only to other Apple products, including MacBooks, but also “for other purposes, such as to securely integrate with home security systems, access password software, and even pay for groceries….”

Imagine the possibilities for conveniently securing access to a variety of things around your home, car and office, not to mention the ease of verifying transactions without pretending that those awkward motions you’re going through will produce something that resembles your signature on those electronic signature pads at checkout. I hate to admit, however, that I am afraid to use Apple’s TouchID technology, even for securing my own iPhone. The reason for my fear boils down to three letters: N.S.A.

You tell me whether my fear is justified. Today the Washington Post revealed that the NSA is tracking cellphone locations worldwide — “gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.” Of course they insist they are only targeting the bad guys, blah, blah, blah. But this is just the latest example we have of the NSA gathering massive quantities of “metadata” about innocent people, no probable cause, no particularized suspicion, and expecting us to just trust them not to misuse it. I will not belabor the issue again here, because I already talked about the third-party doctrine that purports to make this overreach “legal” in yesterday’s post. Suffice it to say that I reject the government’s claim to my metadata and the “finding a needle in a haystack” methodology on which it rests.

Oh for the days when criminal investigation consisted of very smart men focusing on a limited amount of relevant data. That reminds me, the season 3 air dates for Sherlock have been announced. (HT Rob Abiera) I know what I’ll be doing on January 19!

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2 Comments

Filed under Politics, Technology

2 responses to “A Bite-Sized News Sandwich for December 4, 2013

  1. Wondering if police can force one to open TouchID devices to gain info otherwise off limits by one’s right to remain silent …

  2. That’s definitely an issue, and one that I think suggests we might re-think what is and isn’t considered “self-incrimination.” It should not matter whether I am asked to unlock my iPhone with a PIN vs. my fingerprint.

    But that’s not my main concern. My main concern is that your fingerprint will become part of a business record governed by the third-party doctrine, which means the government can get it without probable cause or particularized suspicion. And then who knows what they’ll do with it.

    There’s also the issue of plain old hacking. But a government that acts unjustly can do more damage than can criminals.

    Thanks for reading & commenting!

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