Apple revokes Facebook Enterprise Developer Certificate causing internal havoc

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Apple has revoked Facebook’s enterprise developer certificate, resulting in Facebook’s internal iOS apps, including those used by employees for food and transportation, being blocked.

Facebook used Apple’s Enterprise Developer Program—which is intended for exclusive use by companies to give system administrators the ability to distribute apps to employees’ devices internally—to circumvent Apple’s app store and distribute to users applications that closely monitor users’ app, messaging, and network activity.

However, Facebook decided to circumvent the App Store to distribute the “Project Atlas” research app, by taking advantage of Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program which allows business partners to test and distribute apps to their own employees without any review from Apple.

News of Facebook’s application was reported yesterday, leading Apple to revoke Facebook’s enterprise certificate. This same certificate had been used internally by Facebook for distributing beta builds of Facebook’s apps and for other needs, so the revocation poses a serious challenge for the company.

In a statement, Apple said that the Program was designed “solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organisation”.

“We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organisation. Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple.

Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data”

The internal versions of Facebook apps used by employees carry bits of code for updates or new features that aren’t available to the public. By revoking Facebook’s enterprise developer certificate, Apple has stopped these apps from even launching on employee handsets, thereby severely limiting Facebook’s ability to create new apps or update existing ones for iOS.

Facebook is currently trying to negotiate with Apple to get the apps working on employee devices, but there seems to be some chatter about Apple completely removing Facebook-owned apps from the App Store.

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