Apple has revoked the certificates used by Google and Facebook for apps used by its own employees; the decision is made after it was discovered that both companies used those certificates to bypass the rules of the App Store and obtain additional information from their users.
It all started with Facebook Research, the social network app dedicated to obtaining usage data; offering payment in gift cards to young people between 13 and 35 years old in exchange for having the app installed. Less than 24 hours later, it was discovered that Google had something very similar; Screenwise Meter records usage data on the web and offers rewards as part of the Google Opinion Rewards program.
These apps would not normally be accepted in the App Store. That’s why Facebook and Google implemented an alternative installation method; using the certificates that companies receive from Apple to use apps without having to publish them in the App Store. When a developer wants to try an app, it’s not necessary to upload it to the App Store and wait for Apple’s approval. You can sign the app with a special certificate so that the iPhone and iPad accept them without problems.
These certificates are intended to be used only for employees; but both Facebook and Google took advantage of them to offer apps to the common user.
Apple first blocked the certificates used by Facebook; what caused a great internal chaos according to leaks, with employees unable to use their own apps. And a few hours ago, Apple also blocked Google apps for the same reason.
The reaction of both companies has been different when the deception has been discovered. Facebook became defensive, letting that these revelations do not tell the whole story; Meanwhile, Google apologized publicly, but only for skipping Apple’s protections and not for the app itself.
Both the Facebook and Google spy app are still available on Android. Does anyone find it strange?