Earlier today, Apple shut down Facebook’s Enterprise Developer Program, a way for the social network to distribute iOS apps internally.
The reason? Facebook was using the iOS install certificate—meant for employees only—to peddle a data-gathering app, which it paid non-employees to use.
According to The Verge, Facebook confirmed “its internal apps are affected by Apple revoking its enterprise certificate.”
Google Looks to Have Similarly Violated Apple’s Enterprise Developer Terms
Now, TechCrunch reports Google may have similarly sidestepped the App Store by using its own enterprise iOS certificate to get paid users to install a data-gathering app as well, called Screenwise Meter:
Google has been running an app called Screenwise Meter, which bears a strong resemblance to the app distributed by Facebook Research that has now been barred by Apple, TechCrunch has learned.
In its app, Google invites users aged 18 and up (or 13 if part of a family group) to download the app by way of a special code and registration process using an Enterprise Certificate. That’s the same type of policy violation that led Apple to shut down Facebook’s similar Research VPN iOS app, which had the knock-on effect of also disabling usage of Facebook’s legitimate employee-only apps — which run on the same Facebook Enterprise Certificate — and making Facebook look very iffy in the process.
TechCrunch says Google has since “disabled” this app on iOS devices, citing the following statement:
“The Screenwise Meter iOS app should not have operated under Apple’s developer enterprise program — this was a mistake, and we apologize. We have disabled this app on iOS devices. This app is completely voluntary and always has been. We’ve been upfront with users about the way we use their data in this app, we have no access to encrypted data in apps and on devices, and users can opt out of the program at any time.”
Should Apple revoke Google’s enterprise certificate, it will instantly affect internal iOS apps being used by employees. Most likely that includes apps that have yet to be announced or other apps used mainly by Google employees.
Apple says “what happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.” But with what Google and Facebook have been doing, that is not the case as regular iOS users have been sharing their data with both companies in exchange for payment, only possible due to violating enterprise developer agreements.
Will Apple throw down the ban hammer on Google’s enterprise developer certificate, like they did to Facebook? We’ll have to wait and find out.