UPDATE: 8:35 a.m. ― Apple reportedly has disabled the Group FaceTime feature as a temporary fix until a software update is released later this week.
iPhone users have been urged to disable FaceTime after a bug was discovered that allows callers to listen in and see through front-facing cameras ― even if the person they’re trying to reach doesn’t pick up the call.
Tech site 9to5Mac flagged the privacy fiasco on Monday before it made national headlines and captured the attention of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who issued a consumer alert in response:
According to The Verge, the bug, which affects phones running 12.1.2, works like this: First, one party dials another on FaceTime using the Phone app, but before the recipient can pick up, the caller must swipe up and add their number, forming a group call. The phone, assuming a conference call has started, then allows the caller to listen in on the person being contacted, regardless of whether he or she has answered.
A demonstration of the flaw can be seen in this video:
The bug also occurs on Apple computers running macOS Mojave, CNN reported. Apple has announced plans to make a software update available this week to solve the issue.
News about the bug broke out just hours after Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted about the importance of data privacy:
To turn off the app on your iPhone, here’s what you need to do:
- Open Settings with the gear icon on the bottom of your screen.
- Scroll down to FaceTime.
- Click and toggle off the app.