Apple to Ban Apps With X-Mode Tracker That Sells Data to U.S. Defense Contractors

Both Apple and Google this week told developers that they need to remove X-Mode Social tracking software from all of their apps or risk a ban, reports The Wall Street Journal. Apple and Google are aiming to prevent X-Mode Social from collecting location information from smartphones after it became clear that the company has provided data to U.S. defense contractors.

apple developer banner
Google is giving developers seven days to remove X-Mode, while Apple told developers that they have two weeks to remove X-Mode trackers from their apps. Apple found that 100 apps made by 30 developers included the X-Mode software.

Last month, Vice published a piece on how X-Mode collects data directly from apps and then sells it to government contractors that then pass it along to the U.S. military. X-Mode pays developers to include its SDK in their apps, and in April, X-Mode's CEO said that it tracks more than 25 million devices in the United States and 40 million elsewhere.

That led to a government investigation into the sale of the data, which in turn led to the Apple and Google ban. X-Mode has since claimed that it is reevaluating its government work and that it has been unfairly singled out because many other companies collect similar data.

"A ban on X-Mode's SDK would have broader ecosystem implications considering X-Mode collects similar mobile app data as most advertising SDKs, and Apple and Google would be setting the precedent that they can determine private enterprises' ability to collect and use mobile app data," the company said.

In a statement, Senator Ron Wyden, who launched an investigation into X-Mode, said that Apple and Google are "doing the right thing."

"Americans are sick of learning about apps selling their location information and other sensitive data to anyone with a checkbook, including to the government," Mr. Wyden said. "Apple and Google deserve credit for doing the right thing and exiling X-Mode Social, the most high-profile tracking company, from their app stores. But there's still far more work to be done to protect Americans' privacy, including rooting out the many other data brokers that are siphoning data from Americans' phones."

Apple is working to cut down on other apps that use the same tracking methods. In iOS 14.3, Apple is implementing a new App Store feature that requires developers to clearly disclose what data is collected from the people who use their apps, and starting next year, apps will also have to get user permission to track people across apps and websites.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

larrylaffer Avatar
28 months ago
Apple needs to make fundamental platform changes to stop these things from being possible in the first place. They shouldn't need to suddenly learn that things are happening because other people are finding it.

I'd add Google to the list but they don't even bother to pretend they have a privacy-focused approach.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ksgant Avatar
28 months ago
Google condemned X-Mode, saying "We do not in any way condone what X-Mode has done in collecting data and tracking information about our customers, because THAT'S OUR FRICKEN JOB! If you need the data, our rates are reasonable"
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LeadingHeat Avatar
28 months ago
X-Mode vs Google: Data tracking agencies are bad!

Attachment Image
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannyyankou Avatar
28 months ago
The fact that defense contractors have access to our location data is ****ing scary
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
R3k Avatar
28 months ago

Apple needs to make fundamental platform changes to stop these things from being possible in the first place. They shouldn't need to suddenly learn that things are happening because other people are finding it.

I'd add Google to the list but they don't even bother to pretend they have a privacy-focused approach.
I find them pretty proactive actually. They lead the industry in the sense. They’ve made privacy part of their brand and it’s damaging and embarrassing to them when issues come to light. I think they do make a lot of effort to keep ahead of if all.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rorosbutt Avatar
28 months ago
Is there a way for users to see if they have apps that do this?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Multi Display CarPlay 1

Apple Launching All-New CarPlay Experience Later This Year With These 5 Features

Sunday January 29, 2023 10:15 am PST by
In June 2022, Apple previewed the next generation of CarPlay, promising deeper integration with vehicle functions like A/C and FM radio, support for multiple displays across the dashboard, personalization options, and more. Apple says the first vehicles with support for the next-generation CarPlay experience will be announced in late 2023, with committed automakers including Acura, Audi,...
dewey airtag

Report Highlights Danger of Using AirTags for Tracking Dogs

Monday January 30, 2023 1:45 pm PST by
AirTags may be a convenient way for tracking dogs that might get off leash or otherwise lost, but there are dangers associated with the practice, as outlined by a report from The Wall Street Journal. At 1.26 inches in diameter, AirTags are able to fit easily on a dog's collar, but that size also makes the tracking devices small enough to swallow, at least for a medium to large-sized dog, and ...
maxresdefault

Kuo: Apple to Release Foldable iPad With Carbon Fiber Kickstand in 2024

Monday January 30, 2023 12:55 am PST by
Apple will launch a foldable iPad with a carbon fiber kickstand sometime next year, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. In a series of tweets, Kuo said he expects an "all-new design foldable iPad" to be the next big product launch in the iPad lineup, with no other major iPad releases in the next nine to 12 months. The analyst said he...
tim cook data privacy day

Apple Violated U.S. Labor Laws With Anti-Leak Email

Monday January 30, 2023 3:43 pm PST by
Apple violated United States labor laws when it sent out an email warning employees about leaking confidential information about the company, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said today in a ruling shared by Bloomberg. Rules that Apple has established around leaks "tend to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees" from the exercise of their rights under the National Labor...
top stories 28jan2023

Top Stories: iOS 16.3 Released, iPhone 15 Pro Rumors, macOS Tips and Tricks, and More

Saturday January 28, 2023 6:00 am PST by
Following last week's hardware announcements, this week saw the actual release of several of the new products as well as operating system updates bringing new features and bug fixes across Apple's platforms. This week also saw some fresh rumors about the iPhone 15 lineup and Apple's upcoming AR/VR headset, while we shared some tips to help you get the most of your macOS experience, so read...
iphone 15 pro wifi 6e

Internal Apple Document From Leaker 'Unknownz21' Confirms Wi-Fi 6E Will Be Limited to iPhone 15 Pro Models

Friday January 27, 2023 10:01 am PST by
Multiple rumors have suggested that the next-generation iPhone 15 models will adopt the Wi-Fi 6E standard that Apple has already introduced in the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, and now a leaked document appears to confirm Apple's plans. Sourced from researcher and Apple leaker Unknownz21 (@URedditor), the document features diagrams of the iPhone 15's antenna architecture. D8x refers to the...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Rumored to Have These 8 Features

Friday January 27, 2023 2:11 pm PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are expected to be announced in September as usual. Already, rumors suggest the devices will have at least eight exclusive features not available on the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. An overview of the eight features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17...