Apple borks Apple News ad-blocking app due to 'privacy concerns'
Cupertino claims it is working with the developers to get the apps back in the App Store
Apple has confirmed having removed "a few apps" from the App Store, including Been® Choice - which blocked advertisements even within the native Apple News app - over what it claims are privacy concerns.
The approval of Been Choice came as a surprise to many as it allowed users to circumvent Apple's own profitable advertising efforts.
Cupertino claimed last night that the removal of Been and other applications followed the discovery that the apps were installing root certificates which enabled "the monitoring of customer network data that can in turn be used to compromise SSL/TLS security solutions".
The Been Choice app used a VPN service to strip advertising from native and third-party applications. Co-founder Dave Yoon previously told The Register that the App Store approval process was quite straightforward.
A company tweet suggested that it was the root certificate method of blocking which Apple had objected to, which only affected advertisements from four companies.
We have not been asked to remove ad blocking in all apps, only to remove the method we used to block ads in FB, Google, Yahoo, Pinterest.— Been® Choice (@beenchoice) October 9, 2015
While blocking ads from those companies was no longer possible, due to the necessity of the root certificate for blocking, Palo Alto-based David Yoon told The Register that the app would be returning to the App Store soon. Yoon, who was still up at 3am working on the app when we spoke to him from the UK, told us that Apple had offered special help in getting Choice back on the App Store.
"Apple pointed out exactly what needed to be changed, and promised us expedited/personalized review starting as early as 7am," he informed us.
Although there was a degree of irony in borking the privacy app on privacy grounds, Yoon stated he did not believe Apple was being disingenuous about the causes for the removal.
"[W]e don't think they feel threatened by ad blocking in general," Yoon told El Reg, saying that Apple simply "doesn't think [the root certificate method of blocking] is as safe as can be".
Apple CEO Tim Cook recently made some "not-so-subtle" digs at Google over data collection, in an interview in which he stated that "Privacy is a fundamental human right."
The Register, as always, has fruitlessly contacted Apple regarding this issue. ®
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