The social media leader Facebook has admitted to obtaining sensitive data on nearly 187,000 people who were using its research app. The app is now no longer in use after it was banned by iPhone leader Apple earlier this year owing to violation of rules.
According to a letter by Facebook, the company admits to having collected some sensitive information regarding its 31,000 users located in the US. This I included 4,300 teenagers too. The remaining data collected belonged to Facebook users in India.
As for the ban issued by Apple, it was found earlier this year that two leading online media giants – Facebook and Google – had been misusing their enterprise developer certificates issued by Apple. These certificates permit only the company employees to run the iPhone and iPad apps that are used only within the company premises.
According to an investigation carried out by TechCrunch, Facebook and Google were found to be creating and offering apps to users outside of Apple’s App Store. This was a violation of Apple’s rules and policies. The apps were being used to collect data on how users were using their devices and to determine user app habits. This was done by gaining access to all of their network data both in and out of their devices. In return for this data-collection exercise, the users were being paid by the apps.
Following news of the investigation, Apple immediately imposed a ban on the apps and canceled the enterprise developer certificates first of Facebook and later that of Google. As a result of this, a number of internal iPhone and iPad apps of both the companies, which were dependent on these certificates, also went offline.
Meanwhile, Apple stated that it was unable to determine for sure as to how many user devices had the specific Facebook app (charged of rule violation) installed on them.
In his letter, Timothy Powderly, Director of Federal Affairs, Apple stated, “We know that the provisioning profile for the Facebook Research app was created on April 19, 2017. But this does not necessarily correlate to the date that Facebook distributed the provisioning profile to end users.”