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Lawsuit accuses Instagram of peeping with iPhone camera

Facebook said earlier that the underlying issue was a bug and that the app didn't actually use the camera.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Instagram on an iPhone
Angela Lang/CNET

A lawsuit filed Thursday accuses Instagram of using iPhone cameras to spy on people. The issue appears to be related to a bug discovered in July, when Facebook said the app didn't actually use the camera, even though Apple's iOS 14 software indicated it did.

"Instagram is constantly accessing users' smartphone camera feature while the app is open and monitors users without permission," says the suit, filed in US District Court in San Francisco by New Jersey Instagram user Brittany Conditi. Instagram and its owner, Facebook, "have been able to monitor users' most intimate moments, including those in the privacy of their own homes, in addition to collecting valuable insight and market research on its users," the suit says.

Facebook declined to comment on the lawsuit. But in July it said the camera use notification that iPhone users saw was a bug. "We do not access your camera in those instances, and no content is recorded," Facebook told The Verge.

Cameras are essential for sharing moments with social contacts, but the technology comes with risks. In 2019, users found the Facebook app turned on their cameras, another bug. But concerned people can take stronger measures than relying on software to do what it's supposed to. In 2016, a video revealed that Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg tapes over his laptop's webcam.

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