Earlier this week, a bug was found in FaceTime that could let others listen in to your Apple device’s microphone (or, in specific cases, view video from the camera) without you accepting the FaceTime call.
Apple disabled the Group FaceTime feature that enabled this bug server-side, thus preventing its future misuse while they worked on a proper patch. Apple says that patch should land later this week, but it sounds like that won’t be the end of it for the company.
New York Attorney General Letitia James and Governor Andrew Cuomo have just announced their intent to investigate the matter — how it happened, and what they call Apple’s “slow response.”
While Apple responded with its temporary fix once the bug started going viral, reports suggest that at least two users — a 14-year-old from Arizona and his mother — had been trying to no avail to warn Apple of this matter for more than a week prior.
While bugs happen, this is a particularly egregious and mystifying one. It’s like the perfect storm of bugs — there’s the bug that turns on the microphone early, then a second stage of the bug that for some logic-defying reason turns on the camera if the call recipient hits the power button to try to decline the call. Then it slipped through QA. Then, finally, it gets noticed by someone with good intentions who tries many ways to bring it to Apple’s attention, unsuccessfully. It slowly spreads from person to person, then goes viral on Twitter. This is the kind of bug that people will be reading about in their software engineering textbooks for years.
We’ve reached out to Apple for comment on the investigation, but none was given at the time of publishing.