Friday, 22 February, 2019


Facebook yanks iOS user research app that violated Apple policy

Facebook paid teens to install an app to spy on their internet and phone use Facebook has been paying people $20 per month for complete access to their phones
Melba Vasquez | 30 January, 2019, 22:39

"Facebook is betting that their apps are too popular, that they can do what they want and Apple has to sit back and take it".

The company is able to view web searches, location information, private messages in social media apps, and other data, Guardian Mobile Firewall security specialist Will Strafach told TechCrunch.

Facebook claimed that it was open about its app, that it was obviously monitoring the users' online activity from the description of the software, and pointed to the fact it was called "Facebook Research" as evidence.

According to Constine, users were also asked to provide screenshots of their Amazon order history page.

"Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple", the statement added. The app helped Facebook collect crucial data on people's use of WhatsApp that helped justify its 2014 acquisition of that company for $19 billion.

Facebook has been paying teenagers to install an alarming spy app on their phones - paying them $20 in gift cards to hoover up nearly all the data from their phones.

Facebook claims that the app is/was in line with Apple's Enterprise Certificate program but, since the report went live, the company has chose to pull the iOS version of the Research app.

The program, which is apparently being dubbed "Atlas", was spread through beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest. "All of them with signed parental consent forms". However, Facebook calls on iOS users to side-load the Facebook Research app by declaring the social network to be a trusted developer. But Apple remains a major distributor of the Facebook app via the App Store.

TechCrunch suggested that the app violated Apple's Enterprise Certificate policy, which places tight restrictions on accessing sensitive user data.

"We designed our Enterprise Developer Program exclusively for the internal distribution of apps within an organization".

In addition to blocking the app, a key certificate was blocked which led to several of Facebook's internal testing apps not working anymore, Business Insider reported.

The Facebook Research app was developed for iOS and Android devices and requires a root certificate to be installed on sign-up, which gives the system deeper access to devices than the majority of other apps on the market. Facebook's Onavo VPN app was secretly spying on users and gathering private information while officially its goal was to minimize mobile data usage.

That's how Facebook sneaked through Apple's privacy defenses.

"To my eyes, this action constitutes Facebook declaring war on Apple's iOS privacy protections".

The VPN-based app is similar to one Facebook used to offer called Onavo Protect, which also logged and forward user activity to Facebook, but that app was specifically banned by Apple past year over privacy concerns.

There are no known risks associated with this project, however you acknowledge that the inherent nature of the project involves the tracking of personal information via your child's use of Apps. Unlike iOS, Android supports sideloading apps, so it doesn't need to use Google's tools to distribute the app.

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