Apple has withdrawn Google was able to distribute internal iOS applications, two days after it lifted the same privileges from Facebook, according to Google's source. Apple closed access after TechCrunch discovered that both companies outperformed their strict App Store rules through a company-specific application. Instead of using the Developer Business Program only to distribute applications to their employees, technology giants used it to collect consumer data. Apple's decision reports that it caused damage to Facebook, and this could cause similar disruption to Google. The source said it was unclear what apps were affected, although Verge reported the Gbus internal transport app and the cafe app.
"We work with Apple to detect temporary disruption to some of our corporate iOS apps that we expect will be resolved soon," Google said in a statement. The company did not answer the following question, which was written about whether the problem was caused by Apple who removed Google from the company program. Apple did not return a request for comments.
As of 2012, Google used the Apple Company program to allow iPhone users to download the Screenwise Meter app that monitored their browsing history and network traffic by acting as a virtual private network. With the program, Google avoided making the app available on the Apple App Store. In exchange for a voluntary Screenwise Meter installation, users were rewarded with gift cards for various retailers. It was part of a broader Google consumer behavior program where participants are paid to install tracking software on their router, laptop browser, and television. On Wednesday, Google announced that it will remove Screenwise Meter from iOS, although it is still available on Android.
"The Screenwise Meter iOS app should not have run under the Apple Developer Company – it was a mistake, and we apologize," Google said in a statement on Wednesday. "We have disabled this app on iOS devices. This app is completely voluntary. We have always been with users on how we use our data in this app, we do not have access to encrypted data in apps and devices, and users can opt out of the program at any time. ”
Since 2016, Facebook has also used Apple's business program to distribute a similar iOS application, which it paid to members between $ 13 and $ 35 a month. Unlike Screenwise Meter, research allowed Facebook to decipher many people's network traffic. In other words, Facebook was able to accurately monitor which web page members watched, but Google could only see that they visited a particular domain. However, it is not clear what Facebook used for research and exactly what data was collected.
After TechCrunch discovered that there were studies on Tuesday, Apple stopped using it in a company developer program. In a statement, the company noted that "any developer using company certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked and that is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data."
On Thursday afternoon, at least Facebook had improved. "We have had our company certification that allows us to rebuild internal employee applications," said a Facebook representative. "We have started the internal applications. For this to be clear, it did not affect our services to consumers."
However, Apple's actions in recent days show its willingness to punish even Silicon Valley's biggest players for violating its privacy rules.
Additional reports from Issie Lapowsky.
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