AG James Investigates Creepy Apple FaceTime Privacy Breach

Silver iPhone X. Photo by Przemyslaw Marczynski.

Silver iPhone X. Photo by Przemyslaw Marczynski.

By Christina Carrega

New York Attorney General Letitia James and Gov.Andrew Cuomo launched an investigation on Wednesday into Apple’s failure to warn customers about a bug on FaceTime and the company’s sluggish response to tackling the issue.

“This FaceTime breach is a serious threat to the security and privacy of the millions of New Yorkers who have put their trust in Apple and its products over the years,” James said in a statement. “My office will be conducting a thorough investigation into Apple’s response to the situation, and will evaluate the company’s actions in relation to the laws set forth by the State of New York. We must use every tool at our disposal to ensure that consumers are always protected.”

The bug jeopardized the privacy of consumers in New York by allowing users to receive audio and video from the device of the person they are calling even before the person has accepted or rejected the call, James and Cuomo said in a joint announcement.

Reports indicate that a consumer notified Apple of the issue more than a week before it was shared widely in the media. The company said it took action to disable the affected feature of the app until it releases a fix, but Cuomo said that’s not good enough

“New Yorkers deserve to know that their phones are safe and cannot be used against them,” Cuomo said. “We need a full accounting of the facts to confirm businesses are abiding by New York consumer protection laws and to help make sure this type of privacy breach does not happen again.”

As part of the investigation, the Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection is accepting consumer complaints related to the FaceTime bug.

The helpline 1-800-697-1220 is available Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.