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Houston lawyer sues Apple over FaceTime eavesdrop bug

Attorney says private deposition with a client was overheard and recorded by someone else.

A Houston lawyer sued Apple Inc. on Monday, alleging that the company knew about a bug that allowed for someone to eavesdrop and record a private conversation he was having with one of his clients.

The suit brought by Larry Williams II, a Harris County attorney, said that Apple knew about an iOS 12.1 bug that allowed FaceTime users to hear the conversations of someone they're calling even if the person doesn't pick up the phone.

"Essentially the product converts a person’s personal iPhone into a microphone that can be answered by an unknown third party to listen and record one’s most intimate conversations without consent," Williams' suit described.

The issue was first reported by 9to5Mac and verified by numerous news outlets, including CNBC. Apple has since disabled the "Group FaceTime" feature, and said a software update to fix the bug will be released later in the week.

Williams' suit said that before the bug was reported in the media, he was "undergoing a private deposition with a client" when the "defective product breach allowed for the recording of a private deposition."

That caused Williams "permanent and continuous injuries, pain and suffering and emotional trauma that will continue into the future," according to the suit, which does not detail the specifics of the conversation that was overheard.

Williams also "lost ability to earn a living and will be continued to be so in the future" causing him "mental anguish, physical pain and suffering, diminished capacity for the enjoyment of life, a diminished quality of life," the suit said.

The suit said Apple failed to warn the public of the bug even though the company "had sole access to material facts concerning the defective nature of the product."

Apple "was aware there was a high probability at least some consumers would suffer harm," the suit added.

It's unclear if Apple knew about the bug before it was reported in the media.

An Arizona lawyer told NBC News on Tuesday that her 14-year-old son discovered the bug Jan. 19, but multiple efforts to alert Apple using various methods over a week went unanswered.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment regarding when the company first learned about the bug or a comment regarding Williams' lawsuit.

Williams is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

The iOS 12.1 bug also allowed FaceTime users to see the surroundings of the person they are calling, even if the person didn't answer but did hit the power button.

Even though Group FaceTime is disabled, concerned iPhone and iPad users can also turn off FaceTime by opening settings, choosing FaceTime and toggling FaceTime to off as they await the fix.