Is Apple keeping an iPhone 5S fingerprint database to give to the NSA?
A disturbing claim that Apple and the NSA are in cahoots is making viral rounds on the Internet this week as an article on the National Report website is claiming that the iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner (TouchID) idea came directly from the federal government. The source quoted by the National Report is allegedly a District Manager of Apple's North America Marketing Department, Tim Richardson. According to the source, when asked if there was a potential for iPhone 5S users to have their fingerprints shared by Apple with the NSA his answer was indubitably yes.
"Absolutely the databases will be merged. This whole 'fingerprint scan' idea originated from someone in our Government. They just didn't expect to be outed by Snowden, you know."
The article also went on to say that Richardson believes the NSA and FBI "have been compiling a special database for over a year now to use with the new Apple technology". The report also alleges that the Apple iPhone 5s has "back-up power so the device never completely shuts down. Coupled with the phone's built-in GPS these features will allow police officers to pin-point the criminal so they can be detained quickly and efficiently. Officials expect to apprehend hundreds of suspects within the first months or so of the act."
In addition, the source, Mr. Tim Richardson, seems to have some very pointed opinions about Apple's iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner and sharing the fingerprint database with the NSA. According to Richardson, those who choose to use Apple's new iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor, deserve what's coming to them.
"Frankly, if a person is foolish enough to allow something as specific and criminally implicit as their fingerprints to be cataloged by faceless corporations and Government officials ... well, you can't exactly blame us for capitalizing upon it, can you? Personally, I believe this effort will support a greater good. Some of the folks they're hoping to apprehend are quite dangerous. Besides, it's not like this is covered in the Constitution."
OK, there are a number of red flags in this source's statements, including the fact that I don't think any head of Apple Marketing would make a statement like this. Here's some other reasons this article is very likely false.
1) There doesn't appear to be any District Manager of Apple's North America Marketing Department I have seen a Western Region Manager/District Manager at Apple, A Northwest District Manager at Apple, even a South East District Sales Manager at Apple Inc. but a District Manager of the entire North American marketing department doesn't seem to exist. If you can find it though, please, send us a line and let us make the correction.
2) The National Report is not an official news source. OK, as official as this news source might sound, it is in fact not at all official. If you take a look at the disclaimer on the site it reads as follows: "*DISCLAIMER: The National Report is an online portal for "citizen journalists". The views expressed by writers on this site are theirs alone and are not reflective of the fine journalistic and editorial integrity of National Report. Advice given is NOT to be construed as professional. If you are in need of professional help, please consult a professional. National Report is not intended for children under the age of 18".
3) No other major new source is replicating this story. OK with all the drama that has been in the news over Snowden and the NSA, you would think at the very least The Guardian would be reporting on this. And yet a week after publication, I've only seen two blogs write about this information and neither are major news sources. One indication that a story is legitimate is replication on a wide scale and it just isn't happening here.
4) The National Report has printed hoaxy stories in the past and used to be labeled parody. That's right. Just last week, in fact, we reported on another hoaxy article this news source put out claiming that President Obama had had a mental breakdown and was being sedated by doctors. The "report" was also debunked by Snopes.com. Snopes.com even went so far as to confirm that The National Report is nothing more than "a web site that publishes outrageous fictional stories such as 'The IRS Plans To Target Leprechauns Next.'" Snopes also revealed that the site old disclaimer labeled it as parody but that the disclaimer had recently been changed.
Though perhaps for some these will not be considered solid evidence that Apple is not giving over your iPhone 5S fingerprint scans to the NSA at least it's food for thought. We're not by any means saying it couldn't be happening, but at this point, if the National Report is the source, it might need to be taken with a grain of salt.
The iPhone 5S is a great way for the NSA to build a fingerprint database.
— Vikash Choudhary (@shiningvikash) September 24, 2013
Even the sales associates at sprint know #apple & #government are behind the new iPhone 5#NSA w/ the new fingerprint scanner lol no trust — TD-Nicholson (@NickNicholson_) September 24, 2013
The new iPhone 5s fingerprint scan shit shares your fingerprint with the NSA?! Dude FUCK THAT
— Matt Coon (@MrMattCoon) September 24, 2013
Nope not fucking with the 5s. Whatsoever. http://t.co/oFsUuXmJRs — Valentino St.Claire♌ (@_iTaughtHerThat) September 24, 2013
— Rahil Parikh (@rahiparikh) September 24, 2013
I hope everyone who bought the 5S knows they paid 100 extra dollars for a slightly better camera and the NSA's access to their fingerprint. — Tanner Cook (@tanneralexcook) September 24, 2013
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