“It’s nowhere in his job description, but Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has recently taken a moonlight gig as Facebook’s privacy watchdog,” Erica Yoon writes for The New York Times. “On Wednesday, Mr. Cook and his lieutenants took aim at Facebook for violating Apple’s rules with a research app that allowed Facebook to snoop on users’ online activity. Facebook promoted the app through an Apple program that gives trusted developers the ability to install apps for testing without going through the App Store’s normal approval process. Apple responded by cutting off Facebook’s access to apps and updates that it was working on internally, causing chaos among the company’s software engineers.”
“Mr. Cook, who has called privacy a ‘fundamental human right’ and taken Facebook and Google to task for the misuse of user data in the past, could effectively become a technology regulator of last resort — using the power of Apple’s iOS operating system as a cudgel to force software companies to respect user privacy and play by the rules, or risk losing access to millions of iPhone users,” Yoon writes. “There’s no doubt that Apple took a firm stand here. But if Mr. Cook truly wants to protect Apple users from privacy-violating apps, he could remove all of Facebook’s products — including Instagram and WhatsApp — from the App Store until the company can prove, in a real and measurable way, that it cares about its users’ privacy.”
“Shutting off Facebook’s access to Apple devices would be a radical step, tantamount to declaring war on a major competitor. But Apple has banned developers for smaller infractions in the past. And in the absence of government regulation, there may be no other option for bringing the company to heel on privacy,” Yoon writes. “Is such a big crackdown necessary? It probably is, if Apple is truly serious about protecting privacy. Time and time again, Facebook has shown that it cannot be trusted to protect users’ privacy unless it is forced to do so. And while regulators have fined Facebook for privacy violations, those punishments rarely amount to anything truly meaningful — at most, the company pays a few million dollars, promises to do better next time, and goes right back to work.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Again, as we wrote earlier:
The problem is that government is slow and always behind the curve. Privacy-trampling Facebook and Google need to be regulated. This much, by now, is blatantly obvious. Until or unless the governments of the world get their acts together and begin to protect their citizens’ privacy rights, we’ll settle for Apple standing in as regulator. At least some modicum of restraint on Facebook and Google is capable of being applied by someone who believes in privacy rights.
Although we’d love for Apple to banish Facebook off the App Store forever for serially abusing users’ private data, it’s not really feasible unless Apple wishes to immediately sell far, far fewer iPhones and iPads. Facebook has 2.32 billion users as of December 31st. Apple doesn’t have as nearly much power over Facebook as Newton seems to think.
Should Apple’s power over Facebook worry the rest of us – January 31, 2019
Big surprise: Google is also abusing Apple’s Enterprise Certificate system to collect extensive data on users – January 30, 2019
Apple blocks Facebook from running all of their internal iOS apps by revoking distribution certificate – January 30, 2019
Apple bans Facebook’s ‘research’ app that paid teens to install VPN that spies on them – January 30, 2019
Hidden documents reveal how Facebook made money by bamboozling children – January 18, 2019
Roger McNamee: I mentored Mark Zuckerberg. I loved Facebook. But I can’t stay silent about what’s happening. – January 17, 2019
Apple CEO Cook calls for U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive federal privacy legislation in TIME op-ed – January 17, 2019
Senator Marco Rubio introduces privacy bill to create federal regulations on data collection – January 16, 2019
Apple endorses comprehensive privacy legislation in U.S. Senate testimony – September 26, 2018