Mozilla says it’s working on fixing a bug in Firefox for Android that keeps the smartphone camera active even after users have moved the browser in the background or the phone screen was locked.
A Mozilla spokesperson told ZDNet in an email this week that a fix is expected for later this year in October.
The bug was first spotted and reported to Mozilla a year ago, in July 2019, by an employee of video delivery platform Appear TV.
The bug manifests when users chose to video stream from a website loaded in Firefox instead of a native app.
Mobile users often choose to stream from a mobile browser for privacy reasons, such as not wanting to install an intrusive app and grant it unfettered access to their smartphone’s data. Mobile browsers are better because they prevent websites from accessing smartphone data, keeping their data collection to a minimum.
The Appear TV developer noticed that Firefox video streams kept going, even in situations when they should have normally stopped.
While this raises issues with streams continuing to consume the user’s bandwidth, the bug was also deemed a major privacy issue as Firefox would continue to stream from the user’s device in situations where the user expected privacy by switching to another app or locking the device.
“From our analysis, a website is allowed to retain access to your camera or microphone whilst you’re using other apps, or even if the phone is locked,” a spokesperson for Traced, a privacy app, told ZDNet, after alerting us to the issue.
“While there are times you might want the microphone or video to keep working in the background, your camera should never record you when your phone is locked,” Traced added.