Smartphone fingerprint scanner to lead to biometric databases

The Android-powered One Max – which includes a fingerprint scanner and a 5.9in (15cm) screen – had been scheduled to be unveiled at a press conference in China on Tuesday.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24519976
The HTC One Max’s inclusion of a fingerprint scanner makes it set to be the first Android handset to go on sale with the facility in the UK since Apple’s launch of the iPhone 5S in September, which included a similar component.

However, both were preceded by Motorola’s Atrix handset, released in 2011. It also included a scanner on its rear, but struggled to take accurate readings, leading the firm to ditch the feature in later models.

More recently, South Korea’s Pantech began selling a handset with the function in its home market in August. It has also announced plans for a fingerprint scanner-equipped phablet – the Vega Note LTE-A – but has yet to declare its launch date.

HTC said the One Max would begin its roll-out later this month.

“The fingerprint scanner allows users to lock or unlock the screen and quickly launch up to three favourite applications by assigning an individual finger to each,” HTC said in a statement.

“The fingerprint data is encrypted and stored in local memory and can’t be readily accessed or copied. The fingerprint data cannot be easily converted into any other form or used by a third party.”

However, one security expert suggested the firm still needed to provide more detail.

“The obvious question is: What kind of encryption is the company using?” said Alan Woodward, chief technology officer at the consultancy Charteris.

“The bottom line is that whenever your biometric data is being stored for security purposes it could potentially be misused.

“So, consumers will always want to be sure it is stored in such a way that if you lose the phone, it is hacked into or there’s some other kind of unauthorised access, that it can’t be readily obtained.”

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