Just because Apple disseminated iOS 12.1.4 late last week, patching a very embarrassing Group FaceTime bug that forced Apple to disable the feature, doesn't mean that the company can put the whole thing behind it. A letter addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook (via Mashable) from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce dated February 5th, says that the Committee is "deeply troubled" about why it took Apple so long to listen to 14-year old Grant Thompson and his mother Michele when they tried to tip off the company about the Group FaceTime bug.
credited the Thompsons for pointing out the flaw. Apple often pays a bounty to those who discover problems with their hardware or software, and the teen will receive cash and have his college tuition picked up by the company. The bug allowed a person initiating a Group FaceTime call to hear comments made by the other parties before they even accepted the video call. If those receiving the call turned down their volume button instead of accepting it, live video would be sent from their iPhone without the users' consent and knowledge.Apple eventually issued a statement apologizing for the bug, and
The Committee, in its letter, asked Cook when Apple first learned about the bug and whether it knew about it prior to the notification it received from Michele Thompson. The committee also wants to know why there was a delay between the time that Apple heard about the problem from the Thompson family, and the release of iOS 12.1.4. The letter also asks Cook to divulge whether there are any undisclosed bugs related to its devices' microphones and cameras that have been found, but not yet fixed. Committee members also want to know which privacy interests belonging to FaceTime users were violated by the bug, and whether Apple plans to "notify and compensate" customers affected by the issue.
Michele Thompson said that she had a hard time getting through to Apple to report the bug, and had to post a YouTube video to get the company's attention. Apple says that as a result of the incident, it will revamp its bug reporting system to make it easier for consumers to report a problem.
The letter was signed by chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). The latter is the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee of Consumer Protection and Commerce.