Apple's reaction to FaceTime privacy flaw being probed by New York officials


NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - New York officials are investigating a recent Apple privacy breach that allowed some users of its FaceTime video-chat service to listen in on people they contacted even before the person accepted or rejected the call.

The joint probe by New York Attorney-General Letitia James and Governor Andrew Cuomo's office will focus on what they say was Apple's failure to warn consumers about the bug and its slow response to one of the biggest privacy-related problems faced by the company.

"This FaceTime breach is a serious threat to the security and privacy of the millions of New Yorkers who have put their trust in Apple and its products over the years," Ms James said in the statement on Wednesday (Jan 30).

Apple's press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The bug allowed a user to call someone on FaceTime and hear that person before the call was answered, without the recipient's knowledge.

The glitch would occur when a user created a FaceTime conference call, put in a phone number, and then added another person's phone number. The flaw also allowed video to be sent if the other user clicked either their power button or one of the volume controls.

Cupertino, California-based Apple mitigated the problem on Monday by remotely disabling multi-person FaceTime. It also said it would release a software update later this week to fix the issue.


"We need a full accounting of the facts to confirm businesses are abiding by New York consumer protection laws and to help make sure this type of privacy breach does not happen again," Governor Cuomo said in the statement.

A Houston lawyer sued Apple on Tuesday, saying the glitch allowed someone to eavesdrop on him while he was taking sworn testimony during a client deposition.