A bug was found in Apple’s FaceTime feature in late January that would allow users to hear audio of the person they are FaceTiming before they answer the call. Users could do this through the group FaceTime feature. News of this issue spread quickly and soon went viral. Many people were trying it out and Apple disabled group FaceTime while they hurried to fix the bug.
To see the bug in action a user would first have to start a video call with someone in their contacts. While the call is in progress the user would then have to swipe up from the bottom of their screen and click “add a person”. They would then have to add their own number to the call. Now that a group call is started users could hear audio from the other person’s phone, even if they have not accepted the call. It has also been reported that there were also ways to trigger the phone to send video before they accept the call.
Fourteen year-old Grant Thompson was the first to discover and report the bug to Apple. He and his mother sent several emails to Apple, trying to warn them of the serious privacy issue. However, initially the company gave no response. Apple is rewarding the teen for his discovery, but will not disclose the amount of the reward. It is speculated that reward includes money to help pay for his education.
Lakewood High School senior, Emily Perry, was alarmed when she heard about the bug. She commented, “It honestly terrifies me that someone could be listening and/or watching me without my knowledge. That’s a serious privacy issue and I am glad they are fixing it as quick as they can.”