Apple says putting tape over the MacBook camera or physically covering it is not a good option because it could damage your camera
In late 2016 and early 2017, right after Edward Snowden leaks were publicized, everyone started taping on their laptop and Apple Macbook cameras. This paranoia was fueled when it was revealed that the NSA uses various tricks into hack into your laptop cameras to spy on you.
Hackers have always been hacking laptop cameras to spy on their victims. But the paranoia was mainstreamed by serials like Mr.Robot which showed the protagonists hacking into any laptop camera with ease to spy and snoop on. in 2017, even the then FBI director, James Comey joined the camera taping bandwagon. In a packed conference, Comey told an audience: “I put a piece of tape over the camera because I saw somebody smarter than I am had a piece of tape over their camera.” Later it was found that even Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg tapes his laptop and covers his microphone.
3 things about this photo of Zuck:
Camera covered with tape
Mic jack covered with tape
Email client is Thunderbird pic.twitter.com/vdQlF7RjQt
— Chris Olson (@topherolson) June 21, 2016
Since then it has a fashion to first put a tape on the Macbook or Windows run laptop camera after unboxing it. Many go out the way to buy physical camera covers with slide on/off feature to cover their laptop cameras. But Apple says this is bad for your MacBook camera.
According to Apple taping your MacBook camera or using such a camera cover could end up damaging the display. Apple says that MacBook users should just rely on the indicator light that shows when the camera is active.
In the Apple support bulletin, it says that, “If you close your Mac notebook with a camera cover installed, you might damage your display because the clearance between the display and keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances. Covering the built-in camera might also interfere with the ambient light sensor and prevent features like automatic brightness and True Tone from working. As an alternative to a camera cover, use the camera indicator light to determine if your camera is active, and decide which apps can use your camera in System Preferences.”
If you must use tape, then Apple recommends a tape that is not thicker than 0.1 mm so physical covers go out of the window. If you do find a tape that is less than 0.1 mm thick, Apple want’s you to make sure it doesn’t leave any adhesive residue. All in all, Apple doesn’t want you to cover your MacBook camera.
But is leaving your Apple MacBook or Windows laptop camera untaped safe?
Researchers in 2013 showed how they could activate a Macbook’s camera without triggering the green “this-thing-is-on” light though this vulnerability could have been patched as of now. As for Windows run laptops, many do not even have an indicator to show if the camera is running. One couple claimed a hacker posted a video of them having sex after hacking their smart TV. We already have evidence that the United States FBI does know how to use laptop cameras to spy on users as well.