Apple has triggered privacy concerns over a newly discovered FaceTime bug. Now, Congress has joined the ranks of those who want answers.
A February 5 letter sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce poses a variety of questions, several focused on the amount of time it took for Apple to begin investigating the problem. In the letter, Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said they've been "deeply troubled" by press reports over how long it took Apple to address the bug. Further, the committee members said they don't believe Apple has been as transparent as this issue requires.
Revealed in late January, the FaceTime bug has been troubling on several levels. The flaw speaks to privacy fears as it would allow one person to eavesdrop on another through FaceTime without the call even being answered. But Apple has also come under fire for a perceived delay in responding to the problem after it was discovered by a 14-year-old named Grant Thompson. The boy's mother said that she spent a week trying to get Apple to pay attention but to no avail.
"I tried my best to report it to them, and they didn't listen," Thompson told CNET.
In response, Apple disabled the Group FaceTime feature as a temporary fix, giving it time to fully resolve the bug. Last week, the company said it had resolved the issue on its servers and would be deploying a fix this week. Apple issued a statement apologizing to affected customers but also promising to improve the process for receiving and escalating bug reports.
In the face of Apple's statement, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is looking for answers to specific questions: When did Apple first identify the security bug? Was it aware of the bug before the report from Grant Thompson's mother? What steps were taken after the bug was identified? What procedures are in place to identify these types of bugs before a product is released, and why did those procedures fail in this case? And are there similar vulnerabilities in other Apple products?
Apple has until February 19 to answer the questions from the committee.
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- Apple has received a letter from a congressional committee looking for answers to questions about the FaceTime security flaw.
- The committee members have expressed concern over the amount of time Apple took to address the issue and a perceived lack of transparency on the company's part.
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