Facebook, Google slapped over data-gathering iOS apps

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Apple has revoked Google's ability to distribute its internal apps on iOS, just as it did a few days ago with Facebook.

Google said that Apple had also revoked its enterprise certificate, blocking the tech giant's employees from testing new app features on iPhones.

A Google spokesperson told MobileSyrup via email that Google is "working with Apple to fix a temporary disruption to some of our corporate iOS apps, which we expect will be resolved soon". It's unclear how this will impact that deal when renewal discussions begin.

Update 31/01/2019 6:04pm ET: According to a tweet from New York Times reporter Mike Isaac, Apple has restored Facebook's enterprise developer certificate.

The iPhone maker invalidated Facebook's enterprise app certificate earlier this week after the ad biz admitted using using Apple's enterprise program to bypass the consumer app approval process of its public App Store, and distribute its data-harvesting Facebook Research app directly to teens and adults.

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Facebook spokesman Andy Stone did not immediately respond to other questions.

Ironically, Facebook's app was banned a year ago, taken down from Apple's app store, and then repackaged. The company later resumed its functioning after restoring its enterprise certificate. The app comes with Apple's enterprise developer certificate granted to Google and has been distributed to a "panel" selected and maintained in partnership with the research firm GfK. Onavo's findings helped Facebook executives predict which apps were rising and trending across App Stores. Today, the company handed out the same punishment to Google after learning the Screenwise Meter iOS app also violated Apple developer guidelines.

In response to Wednesday's report, Google had said it's shutting down the Screenwise Meter app on iOS devices. This app is completely voluntary and always has been.

While Apple's move blocked the two non-compliant research apps, it also blocked private iOS apps the companies had been legitimately using with employees.

The Facebook Research app pays teenagers $20 for extensive access to their phone and web activity. That power is a long-standing concern for Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and chief executive, making his company beholden to the rules of others.

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Apple experienced the FaceTime bug early this week and hot on the heels of this discovery, the Cupertino based company was eager and quick to defend their integrity and to assure its consumers they take their privacy seriously, they chose to go after tech giants like Google and Facebook with others like Amazon and Doordash that violate their platform.

The reference to encrypted data is meant to differentiate Google's app from Facebook Research, which Facebook said could collect data in some instances "even where the app uses encryption, or from within secure browser sessions".

They're likely to cause a certain amount of chaos at Google, too. Would that have happened-ever-for a smaller company?

Do you think Apple punished Facebook and Google in the right way in this instance?

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