PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — A pair of congressional lawmakers penned a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook Tuesday, warning him he had two weeks to answer questions surrounding the FaceTime flaw that allowed users to eavesdrop on each other.
The lawmakers, including Chairwoman of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Jan Schakowsky, want to know if Cook and his company knew about the bug before a 14-year-old Arizona boy discovered the glitch while FaceTiming with his friends last month.
The lawmakers also want to know why it took Apple workers more than a week to admit there was an issue, and that the company would be working on a fix.
“It was concerning, absolutely and immediately turned off the app exactly as they said,” said Debbie Rompf. “I didn’t want to take any chances.”
She and her husband, Jon Rompf, use FaceTime to keep in touch with her grandchildren.
“It’s still off on our phones, but hopefully they’ll resolve it,” said Debbie.
Russ Hancock, president of the Joint Venture Silicon Valley, said he believes Apple likely never knew about the bug, but he does think lawmakers have every right to question if our privacy has been compromised.
“One theory is that they knew about this and they were late to take action; that’s not my sense,” Hancock said. “If we believe them straight up, it’s just a bug and software has bugs, hardware has bugs.”
Apple has until Feb. 19th to answer the lawmakers’ questions, including whether Apple devices have other microphone or camera vulnerabilities. They called FaceTime a “wonderful tool when used right,” but that it could also “become the ultimate spying machine.”
“People are thinking these companies need to actually be monitored, even regulated, that’s a new chapter for us,” Hancock said. “In our long history, we haven’t been under the long shadow of regulation.”
“I think we’ve given them way too much power and it does need to have a check,” Debbie said.
She said she would eventually turn on the FaceTime feature. Apple delayed the iOS update that’s expected to fix the flaw until next week.
“Privacy is over,” said Jon. “It’s gone.”