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The 2008-era Apple products they studied had a “hardware interlock” between the camera and the light to ensure that the camera couldn’t turn on without alerting its owner.
But Checkoway and his co-author, Johns Hopkins graduate student Matthew Brocker, were able to get around this security feature.
“Apple went to some amount of effort to make sure that the LED would turn on whenever the camera was taking images,” Checkoway says.
That helped to alert students to the issue, eventually leading to a lawsuit.