In this day and age, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of all the ways that our devices keep track of us. Many of us have simply come to terms with this new reality, but thankfully, there are others out there who are staying vigilant and doing their part to ensure that our collective privacy isn’t violated any more than it needs to be.
Such is the case with Google developer Felix Krause, who identified on his blog this week an alarming truth about iOS apps that allow to access our phone cameras. According to Krause, apps with the necessary permissions are technically capable of recording the user at any time, regardless of whether or not they have manually pressed a button or issued a command to capture a photo or a video within the app.
But that’s not all they can do. Along with snapping a photo or recording a video, Krause claims that apps can access both front and back cameras, upload pictures and videos right after taking them and even run facial recognition to detect the user’s facial features and expressions using Apple’s Vision framework.
You can see a demonstration of the issue in action in a custom app that Krause built in the video below:
You are probably now wondering what you can do to prevent all those apps you absentmindedly granted permission to from recording you when you least expect it. Unfortunately, short of revoking access from every app on your phone, the only real option is to buy a camera case and uncover the camera when you actually want to take a picture or a video. Otherwise, Apple will need to change how the permissions work to make this impossible.
The good news is that Krause has reported the issue to Apple, so we’ll have to wait and see if anything changes in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, think before you allow camera permissions to any app.