Google Also Exploiting Enterprise Certificates to Bypass iOS App Store for Data Collection [Update: Disabled]

Facebook is facing the wrath of Apple today for misusing an enterprise certificate meant for internal use to get Facebook users to sideload a data harvesting "Facebook Research" app that violates App Store policies, and as it turns out, Google has been doing the exact same thing.

According to TechCrunch, Google has been distributing an app called "Screenwise Meter" using the enterprise certificate installation method since 2012.

googlescreenwisemeter
Google has been privately inviting users aged 18 and up (or 13 for those part of a family group) to download Screenwise Meter, an app that is designed to collect information on internet usage, including details on how long a site is visited to apps that are downloaded.

By asking Screenwise Meter users to download the app using an enterprise certificate, Google is able to bypass ‌App Store‌ rules that prevent apps from gathering this kind of data from iPhone users.

Apple just this morning revoked Facebook's enterprise certificate for this exact same activity, which has rendered all of Facebook's internal apps nonoperational and has created chaos at Facebook's headquarters. Facebook employees are not able to use any of the internal apps that they rely on to get work done.

The Screenwise Meter app that Google uses lets users earn gift cards for sharing their traffic and app data. It is part of Google's Cross Media Panel and Google Opinion Rewards programs that provide rewards to people for installing tracking software on their smartphones, web browsers, routers, and TVs.


According to TechCrunch, Google is more forthcoming about the kind of data that it's collecting than Facebook, but that doesn't change the fact that Google is using an app installation method that appears to violate Apple's enterprise certificate rules in the same way the Facebook Research app did.

Additionally, people who install these kinds of apps for rewards may not fully understand the extent of the data that's collected.

Putting the not-insignificant issues of privacy aside -- in short, many people lured by financial rewards may not fully take in what it means to have a company fully monitoring all your screen-based activity -- and the implications of what extent tech businesses are willing to go to to amass more data about users to get an edge on competitors, Google Screenwise Meter for iOS appears to violate Apple's policy.

Apple and Google have not yet commented on the Screenwise Meter app, but if Apple does decide that Google is also violating its enterprise rules, which clearly state that the enterprise program is for distributing internal employee apps only, Google too could see the enterprise certificate used for the Screenwise app revoked.

Apple could also punish Google in the same way that it punished Facebook by revoking all of the company's internal apps that use the same certificate.

Update: Google has issued an apology and has disabled its Screenwise Meter app on iOS devices. "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, and we have no access to encrypted data in apps and on devices, and users can opt out of the program at any time."

Tag: Google

Top Rated Comments

NT1440 Avatar
29 months ago
Didn’t take long for that shoe to drop.

It’s time for people to realize that the big players in tech are surveillance operations, full stop.
Score: 56 Votes (Like | Disagree)
teknikal90 Avatar
29 months ago
awkward.

Apple vs. the world.
Go Apple
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ir_fuel Avatar
29 months ago
And the question one needs to ask: does Android contain this kind of spyware out of the box?
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chrjy Avatar
29 months ago
Lots of companies, including small businesses, exploit enterprise certificates... And why is that? Because AppStore rules are annoyingly restrictive..
Restrictive for good reason....
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GreenPixel Avatar
29 months ago
Alright Apple...apply the rules equally, please.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GreenPixel Avatar
29 months ago
Lots of companies, including small businesses, exploit enterprise certificates... And why is that? Because AppStore rules are annoyingly restrictive..
Only annoying if you don't care about Apple's customer's privacy.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

april 2021 event coverage feature

Apple Event Live Coverage: New iPads, AirTags, and More Expected [Event Over]

Tuesday April 20, 2021 9:07 am PDT by
Apple's virtual "Spring Loaded" event kicks off today at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, with Apple expected to debut updated iPad models and perhaps some other hardware such as AirTags or iMac models based on Apple silicon. Apple is providing a live video stream on its website, on YouTube, and in the company's TV app across its platforms. We will also be updating this article with live blog...
m1 imac colors

Apple Announces Redesigned iMac With M1 Chip and Seven Color Options

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:22 am PDT by
Apple has announced a new, redesigned 24-inch iMac, featuring an M1 chip, a 4.5K display, and a range of color options, as well as an improved cooling system, front-facing camera, speaker system, microphones, power connector, and peripherals. The new iMac features a completely new compact design, and comes in a range of seven striking colors, including green, yellow, orange, pink, purple,...
iphone 12 preorder purple

Apple Launching iPhone 12 and 12 Mini in New Purple Color on April 30

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:08 am PDT by
Apple today announced that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini will be available in a new purple color starting April 30, with pre-orders starting this Friday. Apple is also releasing a new MagSafe Leather Case and Leather Sleeve in Deep Violet, a Silicone Case in Capri Blue, Pistachio, Cantaloupe, or Amethyst, and a Leather Wallet in Arizona, all available to order beginning today. iPhone...
14

Apple Says iOS 14.5 Will Be Released 'Next Week'

Tuesday April 20, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Apple today in a press release about its new AirTag item tracker announced that iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 will be available starting "next week." iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 are packed with new features, including the ability for iPhone users who are wearing an Apple Watch to unlock the iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask. iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 will also be the minimum software versions...
ipad pro with m1 chip

Apple Introduces Next-Generation iPad Pro With M1 Chip, Thunderbolt, 5G, XDR Display, and More

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:40 am PDT by
Apple today announced the next-generation iPad Pro with the same M1 chip found in the latest Macs, Thunderbolt and USB4 support, 5G connectivity on cellular models with mmWave support in the United States, and more. With an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU, Apple says the M1 chip in the new iPad Pro provides up to 50% faster performance and up to 40% faster graphics compared to the A12Z Bionic chip ...
f1618938547

Apple Announces AirTag Tracking Devices Starting At $29 Each

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:10 am PDT by
Apple today announced AirTag, a Tile-like Bluetooth tracking device that's designed to be attached to items like keys and wallets for tracking purposes, letting you find them right in the Find My app. AirTags are accessories for attaching to backpacks, luggage, and other items. Any U1 device like the iPhone 12 can be used for precision finding to guide you right to the item you're looking...
Ports 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature 1 copy

Stolen MacBook Pro Schematics Confirm Apple's Plans to Add More Ports and Remove Touch Bar

Wednesday April 21, 2021 10:31 am PDT by
Schematics stolen from Apple supplier Quanta Computer outline Apple's plans for the next-generation MacBook Pro models that are expected in 2021, and clearly confirm plans for additional ports and a return to MagSafe. MacRumors saw the schematics after they were leaked online, and some of them feature the logic board of the next-generation MacBook Pro. On the right side of the machine,...
iPad Pro

New 12.9-Inch iPad Pro Will Be 0.5mm Thicker to Accommodate Mini-LED Display

Monday April 19, 2021 11:30 am PDT by
The upcoming 12.9-inch iPad Pro will be thicker than the previous-generation version, likely due to the inclusion of the mini-LED display. We've heard several rumors about the change in thickness, and now leaked design images have confirmed it. A source that designs accessories for Apple devices sent MacRumors a series of photos that feature exact dimensions for the new iPad Pro models, and...
iPad Pro Feature Orange

Wedbush Analysts Say 'Spring Loaded' Event Will Debut New iPads With 'Modest Price Increase,' Along With 'a Few Surprises'

Monday April 19, 2021 6:37 am PDT by
Apple is planning to launch a new entry-level iPad, iPad mini, and iPad Pro at its "Spring Loaded" event tomorrow, along with "a few surprises," according to Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analysts Daniel Ives and Strecker Backe explained that the iPad will be the main focus of Apple's "Spring Loaded" event, with new entry-level iPad, iPad mini, and ...
maxresdefault

Apple Event 2021: Everything Apple Announced at Its 'Spring Loaded' Event in Just 6 Minutes

Tuesday April 20, 2021 4:23 pm PDT by
Apple today held its first event of 2021, and it was one of the most exciting events that we've seen in some time. Apple announced a whole slew of new products, including an M1 iMac, an M1 iPad Pro, a refreshed 4K Apple TV, and the long-awaited AirTags. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. It took Apple an hour to introduce all of the new devices during its virtual...