Google Has a Data Collector App Too, But It's Different from Facebook's


Separately, Apple on Wednesday said Facebook can no longer distribute an app that paid users, including teenagers, to extensively track their phone and Web use.

TechCrunch reported separately Wednesday that Google was using the same privileged access to Apple's mobile operating system for a market-research app, Screenwise Meter.

Facebook sent a statement to Fox News about the TechCrunch report.

A Facebook spokesperson said Apple's action also impacted the social network's internal iOS apps that employees use.

Apple revoked Facebook's EDCs, telling the Guardian: "We designed our Enterprise Developer Program exclusively for the internal distribution of apps within an organisation".

The app granted Facebook "nearly limitless access" to the users' device, including records of which apps were installed, location information and the contents of private messages, according to a report by TechCrunch. After breaking the news, TechCrunch explained that Facebook tried to cover its tracks by running the program through testing services such as Applause, BetaBound and uTest.

Facebook made a decision to avoid Apple's service entirely to carry out its nefarious scheme.

The tension spilled over last summer when Facebook pulled a data-security app called Onavo from the app store after Apple determined it violated data-collection policies.

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Following inquiries by TechCrunch on Wednesday about the Screenwise Meter app, Google quickly chose to shut the app down, likely fearing the same consequences Facebook is now dealing with due to its revoked Apple certificates. The Verge received information from a source that stated the ban caused several early versions of Google Maps, Hangouts, Gmail, and other pre-release beta apps to stop working.

Following the Facebook VPN fiasco, Apple swiftly invalidated all certifications for Facebook employee-only apps. This is at least the second time the company has been caught violating Apple's developer agreements.

"Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data".

It is worth noting that both Facebook's Research app and Google's Screenwise apps are optional and users must consent to join the programs.

But it also raises serious questions about how Facebook continues to approach and value sensitive user data, as the company attempts to recover from successive privacy scandals throughout 2018 and other, broader crises.

One day after doing it to Facebook, it's now been revealed that Apple has likewise blocked Google's developer certificate - effectively restricting Google's ability to test its iOS apps internally. The app is still available for "registered panelists" via the Google Play store.

Another thing that's different between the two apps is that Google was much more frank about the app's capabilities and about the data it collects and how. His concerns also extended to adult users, he said: "Consumers deserve simple and clear explanations of what data is being collected and how it being used".