Apple to pay bounty, into college fund of teenager who discovered FaceTime bug

CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple said Thursday it will contribute to a teenager’s college fund and pay a bounty to him and his family for discovering a software flaw that allowed people to eavesdrop on others while using FaceTime on iPhones.

Apple credited 14-year-old Grant Thompson of Tucson, Arizona, for discovering the bug, nearly a week after thanking him for reporting the flaw in the first place.

Apple, which has $245 billion in cash, did not disclose how much it is disclosing to Thompson’s college fund or the bounty it is paying.

Apple has released an iPhone update to fix the flaw.

The bug enabled interlopers to turn an iPhone into a live microphone while using Group FaceTime. Callers were able to activate another person’s microphone remotely even before the person has accepted or rejected the call.

Apple turned off the group-chat feature last week after Thompson and his mother said they unsuccessfully tried to contact the company about the problem for more than a week.

Apple has been criticized for the delay in responding and has promised to improve procedures.

The FaceTime repair is included in the latest version of Apple’s iOS 12 system, which became available to install Thursday.

Although the FaceTime bug has been addressed, its emergence is particularly embarrassing for Apple.

The bug exposed Apple customers to potential surveillance at a time that CEO Tim Cook has been repeatedly declaring that personal privacy is a “fundamental human right.”

Cook also has publicly skewered Facebook and Google, two companies that collect personal information to sell advertising, for not doing enough to protect people’s privacy.

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