Couples are giving each other fingerprint access to their phones raising questions of cybersecurity

For some, the access is a symbol of complete trust 

Chelsea Ritschel
Tuesday 13 November 2018 19:45 GMT
Couples are sharing fingerprint access to their phones (Stock)
Couples are sharing fingerprint access to their phones (Stock)

With technology bringing us closer together than ever, some couples have begun taking their trust to new levels - by granting their significant others phone access via biometric recognition, or fingerprint.

The technologically-savvy relationship stage, allowing a partner fingerprint or facial recognition access, is essentially the millennial and Gen Z version of telling a partner your numeric password.

With iPhones and Androids capable of remembering multiple fingerprints or faces, it makes accessing a partner’s phone as easy as looking at it.

The reasons for having biometric recognition on a partner’s phone range from being able to change a song easily, or check an incoming notification, according to CNBC, which highlighted the trend, with one person comparing it to putting a significant other in the “top friends” section of Myspace.

And it also serves as a measure of trust, according to relationship expert Susan Winter, who told The Independent: “Sharing each other’s fingerprints (and having access to each other’s private messages and calls is indeed a sign of mutual trust.”

“This means that the couple is willing to commit to absolute transparency,” Winter told us. “Certainly, this eliminates many of the infidelity fears a partner may have while in a relationship.

“It’s a bold move that creates a foundation of trust and honesty.”

However, the unprecedented access raises questions about privacy boundaries in a relationship - and what can happen if a relationship goes south.

For one 32-year-old man from New York, who didn't wish to be named, the access is simply too much in a relationship.

"I've got nothing to hide - my girlfriend even reads my journal - but it just feels like a step too far to have the only locked-down, private device of mine available for her to view at will," he told us.

In addition to privacy boundaries, having the ability to use a fingerprint on a partner's phone can also lead to security and data-breach issues.

Although it is possible to simply delete a partner’s fingerprint from a phone’s settings if problems in a relationship arise, or not allow them physical access to the phone, cybersecurity expert at K2 Intelligence and former prosecutor Patrick Doherty pointed out that they can cause damage first.

Doherty explained that the access means a partner could use their significant other’s phone to pretend to be them - to send emails or log on to social media accounts.

Fingerprints can be used in place of passwords for a number of online accounts, such as online banking - meaning that a partner’s fingerprint would be sufficient to grant access.

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While the sentiment behind storing a partner’s biometric password is understandable - that you trust your partner and have nothing to hide - in reality, it can be a risky move when it comes to cybersecurity.

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