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One day after Facebook had its enterprise developer certificates revoked by Apple, Google ran into similar troubles with the iOS and App Store owner.

So it looks like Apple has given both Google and Facebook a slap on the wrist for using their internal developer certificates on external apps.

29 January 2019: TechCrunch's Josh Constine publishes a report with details about the Facebook Research program, including its use of enterprise certificates to distribute the app without Apple's knowledge or approval.

The root cause was, of course, Facebook and Google using their developer certificate to give them deep access to members of the public recruited for market research.

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone did not immediately respond to other questions.

Last year, Apple updated some of its privacy policies and forced Facebook to remove Onavo's app from its App Store.

While Facebook engineers could still write code and work on the iOS apps during the shutoff, their ability to test apps in the field was limited. Employee-only apps including the Gbus iOS transportation app and the company's internal cafe app have also conked out.

"We are working with Apple to solve a temporary interruption of some of our corporate iOS applications, which we hope will be resolved soon" a Google spokesperson said in a statement while Apple has not yet commented on the situation.

Facebook revealing they've been using an app, called "Facebook Research", to track the behavior of its users, many teenagers. Apple has taken a tough stand on the issue, saying tech companies should protect the privacy of user data, not seek to harvest it and profit from it. Facebook and Google, meanwhile, have built their entire businesses on monetizing their users' activity through advertising. The company notes in a statement that all users voluntarily signed up for the Research app, and were free to opt out at any time. (One can not help but wondering how many employees in Google, which controls Android and releases its own Pixel smartphones, are using iPhone as their primary devices.) The tone from Apple, however, was much reconciliatory. Facebook told CNBC that the certificate has been reinstated, though Apple has to confirm it. Users of Android devices can side-load apps from outside the Google Play Store or other Android like the Amazon App Store or GetJar. The company was using Apple's platform to distribute apps to consumers, who were being paid to have their data collected.

Facebook and Google are too big to fail.

That's the same thing that got Facebook in trouble with its Research app.

It's weird but probably necessary/inevitable that Apple is now Facebook's de facto privacy regulator.


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