The last thing that any of us needs is another privacy breach, or even a scare. But Apple might be in a tough spot when it comes to FaceTime, and its ability to protect its users. In fact, its been revealed that a major FaceTime bug can essentially turn your Apple device into a “hot mic”. Meaning, the caller can hear what you are saying, or even see you before you pick up the phone. This is not only a major security issue, this is also a bit embarrassing. Especially since Apple is all about protecting your privacy. And they’ve gone on record blasting other companies for not taking it more seriously.
All that said, this, in my opinion, is less of a security issue than selling user data. Is it a concern? Absolutely, but chances are you aren’t giving out your Social Security or Credit Card Number in the moments leading up to a FaceTime call. Apple needs to get out in front of this and take accountability for their actions. Coding isn’t an easy thing to do, don’t get me wrong. Software engineers are human, so it kind of makes sense that human errors might occur. Every technology company faces coding bugs. Some get caught before getting launched but some don’t.
So what does all of this mean? Like I said, the fact that this bug didn’t get caught isn’t a huge deal. The bigger deal is that it happened to Apple, and they’ve been talking A LOT about privacy over the past few months. Should Apple get held to a higher standard, than say a company like Facebook? On one hand, I want to say yes, because of the privacy high horse they’ve been on. But then does that mean we give companies like Facebook a pass because they haven’t been able to get it right when it comes to privacy? I think the answer is no.
I think both need to be held to the same standard, but this is an age-old question and really looks at a situation in black and white terms. Before I get back into this from an Apple perspective, let’s think about it in a different way. Should a police officer be held to a higher standard when he/she breaks the law? Many people say yes because the police officer knew the law, and chose to break it anyway. But I don’t necessarily think that anyone should be held to a higher standard. I think a standard is a standard, and anyone who breaks the rule or the law should face the same consequences.
That said, this is definitely egg on Tim Cook’s face as he has gone on record numerous times since October 2 espousing his company’s commitment to privacy. During CES, a billboard in Las Vegas claimed “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone”. Apple has disabled this feature, and are working on a way to correct it. They will still need to atone for this, but it will be interesting to see if people are quicker to forgive Apple than they are Facebook?