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New report states Google also violated App Store privacy rules [Update]

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Google logo (Image credit: Android Central)

Update: Google provided the following statement to TechCrunch stating it has disabled the Screenwise app on iOS:

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.

Original story follows:

Apple blocked all of Facebook's internal iOS apps after it was found that the social network was distributing a VPN app that collected an overt amount of customer data. Now it looks like Google has also been undertaking a similar practice.

An investigation by TechCrunch found that Google was using its Enterprise Certificate to let users install an app called Screenwise Meter, which monitors usage data in exchange for free gift cards.

Google invited users 18 and above — or 13 and above for families — to participate in the program, and while the search giant was upfront about collecting user data in exchange for financial reward, it likely ran afoul of App Store guidelines. Apple states that the Enterprise Certificate program may only be used for distributing employee-only internal apps, which wasn't the case here.

As such, Apple could remove Screenwise from iOS, or as TechCrunch notes, even invalidate Google's Enterprise Certificate like it did for Facebook. For now, we'll have to wait and see what action Apple takes.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Harish Jonnalagadda

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

14 Comments
  • Wow, big surprise.
  • Appalling. Like Facebook, exploiting children. This isn't acceptable.
  • Yea....hmmm. Google...that motto.....do no evil...remember that Google?
  • > remember that Google? Not really. Do you? :-P
  • I find this article a we bit amusing. Apple is doing the same exact thing with their customers internally. I would be surprised if the writer of this article didn't use an IPhone as his/her daily driver. This really isn't news but I get it. Writers have to pay the bills too. Cheers!
  • The article alludes to the point! But you miss it by a country mile.
    The major tech companies are taking the piss! I don't mind surrendering a bit of my privacy to get a some free stuff.
    But the trade off is becoming obscene
  • I missed it by a "country" mile? Or the writer? Just curious lol. I'm open to criticism.
  • I miss Windows Phone... I miss BlackBerry... All we have left is Android and iOS... Two boring mobile OS's... One which monitors your every move and the other ties you into their walled garden... 😣
  • Check out Librem 5. Should be available in April.
  • I am not surprised by this at all but that being said I think it is showing the coming storm on apple not allowing side loading applications. I have zero issue with apps like this being banned from the App store but I do have issues with the fact on the iPhone side loading is not allowed and when you side load you accept all risk that come with it. The enterprise distribution is a workaround Google and Facebook used is a workaround. I can also promise you they are not the only ones doing it. I worked for a company that did it for years because of the appstore approval process being a pain and the threat of being shutdown by Apple by the app being block from an update scared them. They though they could fly under the radar and honestly they did before we moved over to the App store. The pain to deal with that approval process was a pain up until the day I left as our reviewer generally did not have a clue how it worked nor understood it. It was a crap shoot on if and when we got threw and if it was some random item that they would reject us on that had been in the app for years. This is a rant more on the bigger underlining issue with iOS and iOS development. I speak at a developer when I say I want a way to side load that does not require enterprise distubution as it is a pain to jump threw the hoops.
  • Interesting. I definitely understand your point
  • "It was a mistake." Riiiight.
  • Wow, what is new? I'm pretty sure that we are aware of what Google might be doing behind the scenes by now.
  • Shhhhhh... Quiet everybody...... The algorithms are learning.