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
35 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
35 months ago
awkward.

Apple vs. the world.
Go Apple
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ir_fuel Avatar
35 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
35 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
35 months ago
Alright Apple...apply the rules equally, please.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GreenPixel Avatar
35 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

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...
maxresdefault

Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak Discuss iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, Privacy, Shortcuts on Mac, and More

Saturday June 12, 2021 6:12 am PDT by
As is tradition, Apple executives Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak joined Daring Fireball's John Gruber in an episode of The Talk Show to discuss several announcements that Apple made over this weeks WWDC, including iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and a large focus around privacy. Federighi kicks off the conversation discussing the common architecture, now thanks to Apple silicon, across all of...
M1X MBP Feature

Leaker: Upcoming MacBook Pro to See Price Hike Over Current Model, Equal Performance Across 14 and 16-Inch Sizes

Tuesday August 24, 2021 5:28 am PDT by
The upcoming 14-inch MacBook Pro is set to be more expensive than the current 13-inch MacBook Pro and both the 14 and 16-inch models will offer the same performance, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." The leaker shared the information on Twitter, explaining that both of the upcoming MacBook Pro models, expected to come in 14 and 16-inch sizes, will feature the same performance due...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
YouTube Picture in Picture Feature

YouTube Premium Subscribers Can Now Use iOS Picture-in-Picture: Here's How

Wednesday August 25, 2021 3:55 am PDT by
Google has rolled out picture-in-picture support as an "experimental" feature for YouTube premium subscribers, allowing them to watch video in a small window when the app is closed. If you're a premium YouTube subscriber looking to try out picture-in-picture, follow these steps: Launch a web browser and sign into your YouTube account at YouTube.com. Navigate to www.youtube.com/new. Scroll...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
twitterqrcode

Twitter Introduces QR Codes for Sharing and Following Accounts

Wednesday November 16, 2016 4:13 pm PST by
Twitter today introduced Snapchat-style QR codes, which are designed to make it easier to find and follow friends on the social network. Each Twitter QR code is unique to an individual Twitter user, so when scanned, it'll bring up the person's account. To access your Twitter QR code, you'll need the official Twitter app for iOS. In the app, go to your profile, tap on the gear icon, and select...
macOS Monterey on MBP Feature

Apple Seeds Sixth Beta of macOS Monterey to Developers

Monday August 30, 2021 1:11 pm PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth developer beta of macOS Monterey, the newest version of the macOS operating system. The sixth beta comes three weeks after Apple released the fifth macOS Monterey beta. Registered developers can download the beta through the Apple Developer Center and once the appropriate profile is installed, betas will be available through the Software Update mechanism in...