iPhone FaceTime bug: Now Apple sued over eavesdrop on lawyer's client phone call

Apple sued over FaceTime eavesdropping bug and faces criticism for not responding to bug reports.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Apple is being sued by a Houston lawyer over the just-revealed FaceTime bug that prompted the iPhone maker to take Group FaceTime offline yesterday

The unusual bug in iOS 12.1 allowed anyone to use the Group FaceTime feature on the iPhone to listen to or view a video of a recipient, even without the recipient answering the FaceTime call. 

Larry Williams II, a Houston-based lawyer, has now filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming damages over the iOS bug, Bloomberg reports

He claims someone eavesdropped on his iPhone call while he was taking a sworn testimony during a client deposition, saying the bug exposed "one's most intimate conversations without consent". 

Williams has filed for damages based on claims of negligence, product liability, misrepresentation, and a warranty breach. 

After the bug became publicized yesterday, Apple disabled Group FaceTime on the server side to prevent people from exploiting it until it issues a patch. Apple has said it expects to release a fix later this week. 

Apple has also been accused by a woman of ignoring her report about the bug that she submitted on January 20. Michele Thompson, an Arizona-based lawyer, says her 14-year-old son discovered the bug on January 19 while playing Fortnite with friends.

SEE: Apple iOS 12: An insider's guide (free PDF)

The teenager reportedly added a friend to a group conversation and was able to listen in to conversations through the iPhone's mic despite his friend not having answered the call.  

The bug could be exploited by a fellow iPhone owner by them simply calling a contact on FaceTime, swiping up for Group FaceTime and then adding the caller's number to the call. The caller can hear the recipient even when the call is unanswered. 

Thompson said reporting the bug to Apple was "exhausting and exasperating," even as an attorney who regularly files legal documents.

Apple told Thompson she must register as a developer to report the bug to the company. She did that and got a response on January 23, but it was not clear to her that Apple intended to fix the flaw.

Previous and related coverage

Severe vulnerability in Apple FaceTime found by Fortnite player

The teen's mother attempted to contact Apple with no success.

Apple disables Group FaceTime function that was allowing callers to listen and view without your consent

Apple iPhone users discovered a serious FaceTime bug that lets you hear audio from another iPhone or even view live video without the recipient's knowledge.

Apple gets egg all over its FaceTime

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iOS 12.1.3 is out: Time to update your iPhones and iPads

iOS 12.1.3 contains a number of bug fixes, as well as important security updates, including a patch to a FaceTime bug that could allow an attacker to trigger FaceTime calls on remote iPhones and iPads.

iOS 12.1.1 is now available, fixes an annoying FaceTime feature

The update includes bug fixes and FaceTime improvements.

How to disable FaceTime (so no one can eavesdrop on your iPhone or Mac) CNET

An Apple FaceTime bug can let callers hear and see you, even if you don't accept the call. Here's how to protect yourself until there's a permanent fix.

How Apple Group FaceTime could replace Google Hangouts Chat and Skype for Business TechRepublic

At WWDC, Apple announced a new feature for iOS 12 that will allow FaceTime to accommodate up to 32 people at once. This could make Apple a contender in the enterprise video conferencing realm.

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