FaceTime Bug Creates “HearTime” Allowing Eavesdropping

As technology evolves allowing for easier methods to communicate, so does the concern for privacy with continued findings of loopholes, bugs, and coding errors. On the heels of Facebook’s last privacy breach, Apple has come to the forefront in news for their FaceTime bug.

Consumers Allegedly Brought the FaceTime Bug to Apple’s Attention, Getting No Response

An apparently loophole in the Group FaceTime function allows a caller to listen in on a call recipient’s conversation even if they don’t answer the call.  The iPhone microphone enabled a caller to listen in on the call receiver’s conversation during ring mode as well as allowed the viewing of video through the recipient’s phone camera.  Claims have been made by consumers of reporting the issue to Apple support, via various methods, receiving no helpful response.

While the window for “listing in” or eavesdropping on a recipient may be small, the bug has created significant consumer privacy concerns. So far, at least one lawsuit is known to have been filed against Apple by an attorney claiming the FaceTime bug allowed for the recording of a private deposition. Apple’s acknowledgement of the issue on January 28th came after the reporting of the FaceTime bug on 9to5mac.com.

Apple Disables Group FaceTime

Apple’s acknowledgement of the issue was followed by taking the Group FaceTime function offline, preventing further use of the privacy loophole. Additionally, it is recommended anyone with privacy concerns turn their FaceTime setting off, until the FaceTime bug patch is released.  Apple indicates it is working on a fix and anticipates releasing a software update this week.

The issue affects iPhones and iPads on iOS 12.1. Additionally, it has been reported by CNN that Macs running OS Mojave are also affected by the FaceTime bug.

Privacy Concerns and Innovative Technology

While we all want the newest and easiest ways of getting what we need, the price appears to often come at the price of privacy.  Reports of privacy breaches and data hacks continue to increase as technological advances provide us with “a better way” of living life and doing business.

Facebook has seen hefty fines imposed in it from the US as well as foreign jurisdictions with its handling of recent breaches. One of the biggest concerns addressed in privacy acts is how promptly and properly the company at issue handles a privacy or data breach once it becomes know.  On January 30th, the Attorney General of New York, Letitia James, announced the opening of an investigation into Apple’s handling of the FaceTime bug issue.  Companies are seeing that they will be held to a higher standard of accountability as changes in privacy laws evolve.

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