Risk & Compliance

Lawmakers Seek Answers Over Apple Bug

The company is facing criticism over its response to a flaw in its FaceTime app.
Lauren MuskettFebruary 6, 2019
Lawmakers Seek Answers Over Apple Bug

Two important Democrats in the House of Representatives have asked Apple to answer questions about a bug in its FaceTime video app that may have compromised users’ privacy.

In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, House Energy and Commerce chairman Frank Pallone and Representative Jan Schakowsky said they were “deeply troubled” over how long Apple took to address the flaw after it was brought to their attention. They asked Apple when it learned of the problem, what risks the bugs may have posed to consumers, and whether or not “there are other undisclosed bugs that currently exist and have not been addressed.”

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“Your company and others must proactively ensure devices and applications protect consumer privacy, immediately act when a vulnerability is identified, and address any harm caused when you fail to meet your obligations to consumers,” the Representatives wrote. “We do not believe Apple has been as transparent as this serious issue requires.”

The bug, which allowed users to hear the audio of a person they were calling before that person answered, was found by a 14-year-old, Grant Thompson, whose mother reported the issue to Apple, but only after several unsuccessful attempts.

“We want to assure our customers that as soon as our engineering team became aware of the details necessary to reproduce the bug, they quickly disabled Group FaceTime and began work on the fix,” Apple said in a statement. The company disabled the app while engineers worked on a fix.

Pallone and Schakowsky also requested a timeline of Apple’s response to the flaw, why it took the company so long to respond, and how the company tests products before public release.

They said they want written answers by February 19.

Apple is already facing one lawsuit and an investigation by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. “New Yorkers shouldn’t have to choose between their private communications and their privacy rights,” James said.