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After the announcement of the iPhone 5s' fingerprint detector, jokes abounded on Twitter and throughout much of the rest of the Internet about how the NSA was going to document everyone's fingerprints with the device. According to the Wall Street Journal, at least, it may not come to that. According to an unnamed spokesman at Apple, the fingerprint detector won't actually record images of your fingerprints.
Instead, it will only collect "fingerprint data," which is stored in the iPhone 5S's processor. According to the WSJ, "In practice, this means that even if someone cracked an iPhone's encrypted chip, they likely wouldn't be able to reverse engineer someone’s fingerprint." This is in line with what Apple said during the actual announcement, specifically that the information was stored "in the Secure Enclave inside the A7 chip on the iPhone 5s." The information would not be store on Apple's servers or in the iCloud.
In its interview with the Wall Street Journal, Apple also alleviated concerns that the fingerprint detection device won't always worked if your fingers are dirty (or injured, for that matter). As a safeguard against this, anyone who uses the fingerprint sensor will also have to create a passcode in case the sensor isn't working.
The WSJ went on to add that you'll also have to use this passcode if you reboot your phone or haven't unlocked it within 48 hours. As the WSJ says, "This feature is meant to block hackers from stalling for time as they try to find a way to circumvent the fingerprint scanner."
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.