Texas lawyer suing Apple over FaceTime bug claims it was used to snoop on a meeting

Complainant seeks damages for 'lost ability to earn a living'

A Texas lawyer is suing Apple over its FaceTime eavesdropping bug, claiming it allowed someone to overhear a meeting with a client.

Larry Williams II filed the case in Harris County, Houston, following revelations that it was possible for callers to listen in to the mic on a person's phone or Mac before that person accepted or rejected the call.

The gaping security defect, in iOS 12.1 and 12.2 at least, affected FaceTime Group calls. A caller could go through a few simple steps to activate the microphone of a recipient's device without that person having agreed to enter the call.

Williams said in the filing (PDF), published by the Courthouse News Service, that the bug "essentially... converts a person's personal iPhone into a microphone" for a third party to listen in without consent.

The lawyer said he was in a private deposition with a client when "this defective product breach allowed for the recording" of the meeting.

The suit states that Apple – which it held as entirely responsible for the design, testing and distribution of the iOS update – had failed to provide warnings or instructions to alert the public to the risks.

Apple failed to exercise reasonable care in the design, the suit said. And the vendor "knew, or should have known, that its Product [affected iOS] would cause unsolicited privacy breaches and eavesdropping" and that users "would foreseeably suffer injury" as a result.

Making his case for damages, Williams said he had suffered "permanent and continuous injuries" that included a "lost ability to earn a living" that would continue into the future.

After the news went public on 29 January, Apple disabled FaceTime Group until it could push out a software fix. ®

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