Fact Check

Apple iPhone 5s Fingerprint Database to Be Shared with NSA

Will the Apple iPhone 5s share user fingerprint data with the FBI and the NSA?

Published Oct 2, 2013

Claim:   The Apple iPhone 5s will share user fingerprint data with the FBI and the NSA.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, September 2013]

As a a high school teacher I know students believe many incorrect statements. Today they informed me that the new iphone has the capability to allow for "fingerprint id" passwords, but that you should not use it because your fingerprints will go directly to the NSA. Please help me refute this information for them.


Origins:   On 19 September 2013, the National Report published an article positing that the fingerprint recognition technology incorporated into the new Apple iPhone 5s would share user fingerprint data with the FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA) for law enforcement use:

Apple’s official spokespeople have maintained a vague stance on the potential of sharing their fingerprint database with the NSA. Fortunately, after hours of phone calls I was finally able to speak with an employe that could answer some of my questions.

"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." Said Tim Richardson, District Manager of Apple's North America Marketing Department. He went onto explain that the NSA and FBI have been compiling a special database for over a year now to use with the new Apple technology. Fingerprints from all over the nation. Cold cases. Fugitives of the law. Missing persons.

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.

By the following day links and excerpts referencing this article were being circulated via social media, with many of those who encountered the item mistaking it for a genuine news article. However, the article was just a bit of satire from the National Report, a web site that publishes outrageous fictional stories such as "IRS Plans to Target Leprechauns Next," "Boy Scouts Announce Boobs Merit Badge," and "New CDC Study Indicates Pets of Gay Couples Worse at Sports, Better at Fashion Than Pets of Straight Couples."

The National Report's (since removed) disclaimer page notes that:

National Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental.

Last updated:   2 October 2013

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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