It’s been a whirlwind couple of days for Apple, having first revoked a Facebook enterprise certificate that was being used to allow a data collection app to bypass App Store rules.
That app also broke Apple’s enterprise certificate rules and was subsequently removed, wreaking havoc inside Facebook as other apps using the same certificate began to fail. Just when we didn’t think that the story couldn’t get much stranger, it turned out the Google was doing something similar.
Apple also revoked Google’s enterprise certificate and yes, it caused havoc there, too.
The upshot of all this was that both Facebook and Google, two companies misusing Apple’s enterprise certificate system to allow it to install apps on users’ iPhones without going via the App Store, were left unable to fully function because the same certificates were used to distribute internal apps. It also meant that development works on apps like Facebook, Hangouts, and more were simply unable to proceed.
While Facebook was caught offering its Facebook Research app, one that allowed the collection of data, Google’s crime was almost identical. Screenwise Meter was an app that allowed Google to collect its own data on users’ habits, something that it shouldn’t have been doing.
While Facebook and Google will both point to the fact that people installing the apps were told what they would do, the question as to whether those users truly understood the kinds of data being collected is a big one. And regardless, what both companies were doing is against Apple’s rules – rules they both signed up to. Apple was perfectly within its rights to revoke both certificates and, one could argue, was compelled to.
Both Facebook and Google have now said that they have new certificates in place with the help of Apple, meaning they should now be able to function internally. We doubt either Facebook Research or Screenwise Meter will make a reappearance, though.
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