Apple, Facebook spat is over, for now-iOS certificate access restored

Posted February 04, 2019

It's unclear how this will impact that deal when renewal discussions begin.

Google and Facebook on Thursday confirmed to the media that Apple had reinstated their certificates, clearing them to use internal iOS apps once again.

Apple, naturally, was unimpressed, and its reaction was swift and brutal: cancelling both Facebook and Google's internal certificates, preventing not only the data-gathering apps in question from running but all internal and in-development apps as well - everything from unreleased versions of upcoming updates to the software Facebook uses to tell its staff what's available in the cafeteria today.

Facebook had a similar revocation earlier this week surrounding an app of its own.

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As can be seen from the tweet above, the nuclear option has had devastating consequences for the ability of Facebook employees to engage with their company resources, revealing that Facebook's relationship with Apple's always byzantine store policies was their weakest security link. This week, a bug was discovered in its FaceTime app, whereby people could spy on the video and audio FaceTime calls of other users.

Facebook took advantage of one of the programs of Apple.

Facebook Inc.'s app development was hobbled in a similar way for about 24 hours, a sign that Apple is wielding power as operator of the most-lucrative US app store to push its approach to user privacy. Apple is hearing none of it as it shut down its internal apps such as early and beta versions of Google apps, including apps that are only used by Google employees such as the Gbus and café app. The latter is a VPN app that gives Facebook users $20 a month in exchange for root access to participants' phones.

However, Google's developer certificates were still made invalid by Apple on Thursday, reported first by The Verge.

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Google's ScreenWise Meter app was a little different from Facebook's app.

But the practice of using Apple's enterprise program isn't uncommon and Apple is now likely to crack down on misuse by other companies too.

The app can easily collect intimate information regarding the online behavior and communications of the users. Worse, the company-wide food and shuttle apps also fell over leaving somewhere between one and 94,000 employees hungry and confused. The app relied on Apple's enterprise program, which enables the distribution of internal apps within a company.

But it wasn't specifically the user data collection that sparked Apple's ire.

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"This is a market research program that helps us understand consumer behavior and trends to build better mobile products", Canahuati wrote.