Apple Pulls FaceTime Group Calling Over Microphone Eavesdropping

Following the heated discussion on a potentially disastrous bug, Apple took down its Group FaceTime calls. Under certain circumstances, the glitch also allows callers to see video of the person they are calling before they pick up.

The issue was so serious that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and even Andrew Cuomo, governor of the state of NY, weighed in and urged their followers to disable FaceTime.

To avoid falling victim to the bug, disable FaceTime on all your devices until Apple's software updates have been released. In the meantime, the company has disabled the group calling function of FaceTime.

Unless you're comfortable with people discreetly listening in on your most private conversations (it's okay, I talk about the movie Face Off with my cat, too), you should disable FaceTime right now on any supported devices.

And, thanks to Continuity, if you have multiple devices logged into FaceTime and running iOS 12 or macOS Mojave, the chaos is exponential - all the devices will ring and can potentially be used to access the respective device mics.

An Apple statement quoted in U.S. media said the iPhone maker was aware of this issue and has "identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week".

The bug emerged on Data Privacy Day when Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook called for "action and reform for vital privacy protections".

She also uploaded a video on YouTube demonstrating the flaw on January 25, which she sent to Apple multiple times. Mashable discovered that it also let callers see through the recipient's FaceTime (front-facing) camera.

He said: "The FaceTime bug is an egregious breach of privacy that puts New Yorkers at risk".

To disable the FaceTime app temporarily, users can go to Settings, select FaceTime and then toggle it to off until a patch has been issued.

Given that the bug doesn't seem to work with my iPhone XS Max running the iOS 12.2 beta, it's likely that Apple was aware of the issue.

  • Fernando Stephens