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Apple Yanks Privacy App From the App Store 136

Posted by timothy
from the earwigs-in-the-glass-garden dept.
wiredmikey writes "Back in May of this year, Internet security firm Bitdefender launched 'Clueful,' an iOS App that helps identify potentially intrusive applications and show users what they do behind their back, and giving users an inside look at all the information app developers can gather about a user. Seems legit, right? Apple doesn't think so. Or at least they have an issue with something behind the App that sparked them to pull it from the App Store. After initially reviewing and approving the App that was released on May 22, Apple has had a change of heart and has just removed the App from the AppStore. It's unclear [why it was yanked], and Bitdefender told SecurityWeek that the company is under NDA as far as explanations for the removal. Interestingly, Bitdefender did share some data that they gathered based on Clueful's analysis of more than 65,000 iOS apps so far, including the fact that 41.4 percent of apps were shown to track a user's location unbeknownst to them."
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Apple Yanks Privacy App From the App Store

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  • by sethstorm (512897) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @05:44PM (#40704641) Homepage

    Sounds like Apple wants to be on both sides of their 1984 commercial. Not only do they want to be on the side that "is different" while being on the side that hates freedom and privacy.

  • by zeroryoko1974 (2634611) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @05:45PM (#40704657)
    They want to be on the side that makes them billions of dollars a year
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @05:48PM (#40704693)

    doy

    sell someone an image to buy into and they become your slave

    Apple has been selling an image for a long time, hence all the "Religion of Steve" jokes

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @05:51PM (#40704721)

    That the ad library they embed is tracking the user location.

  • Sounds correct (Score:4, Insightful)

    by freeweaver (2548146) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @05:51PM (#40704725)

    Of course, you understand this has nothing to do with privacy right? The app was pulled because it didn't conform to our freedom respecting terms & conditions.

    That is, our freedom to collect all your data.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @05:57PM (#40704801)

    Agreed... which if the average Joe valued his or her own privacy and freedom to control their own device, wouldn't be the side that makes billions of dollars a year. But unfortunately, Joe doesn't give a shit, so it is.

  • Re:rotten (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RLBrown (889443) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @06:01PM (#40704831) Homepage
    Dirty work? Do not be so sure. The article raises the possibility that Apple did not like the Clueful app because it discloses to users that some developers are in fact evil. But then this possibility is knocked down as not being likely. So we are left with a big question as to why the Clueful app was pulled. The most likely reason is that the app fell into a technical TOS violation, something that is prohibited but in this case would have in fact been okay. Perhaps because the app sends user data back to the developer? Even if that was done for benign and beneficial use, it could still be a TOS violation. Let's not conjure up headlines. I know a lot of developers do not like the walled garden, but after the "Find and Call" incident, maybe users view the wall in a different light.
  • NDA What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sir-gold (949031) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @06:02PM (#40704835)

    What kind of NDA do they have that keeps them from saying why it was pulled? (or do they have a "fight club" NDA prohibiting them from talking about the NDA?)

    Does Apple make every iOS developer sign an NDA, or only the security researchers.

    Something doesn't add up here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @06:14PM (#40704917)

    The problem with this sort of app is it is delivering information based on some probing and some guesses but has no idea what is being done with the information. Not knowing anything about Clueful I can only guess they are looking for API calls that would tend to indicate certain behaviors are present in an app.

    The first caution therefore is that because an API call is present in an app there is nothing whatsoever to indicate when or how it is being used, if it is being used at all. Therefore we are talking about possibilities and potentialialities, not facts.

    Emphasis mine. There is no problem with this sort of application. This is exactly the reason the application exists, to inform you that you have no idea what is being done with the information.

    Seems like you're either a shill, or completely missed the point that such applications and users of such applications have a desire to know more (than apparently 40% of the other applications aren't telling).

  • by Halo1 (136547) <jonas.maebeNO@SPAMelis.ugent.be> on Thursday July 19, 2012 @06:24PM (#40704993) Homepage

    The problem with this sort of app is it is delivering information based on some probing and some guesses but has no idea what is being done with the information. Not knowing anything about Clueful ...

    Not knowing anything about Clueful, you spend 5 paragraphs criticising the developers of that application for presenting information that may not be 100% correct. You need to look up the definition of "irony" and do it fast, because I feel a new one is in the making.

  • Re:Yargh! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @06:28PM (#40705031)

    So you think I should assume that Apple had my best interested at heart, and were protecting me from knowing too much?

    Thanks! Glad I don't have to worry! Back to FOOTBALL!!!

  • Walled Garden (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @06:50PM (#40705241) Homepage

    I'm not at all unsympathetic, but that's what you get when you develop for a "curated" platform.

  • by Kalriath (849904) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:40PM (#40705823)

    The exception is if they have iAds embedded, as iAds has location services enabled for it specifically. He was probably seeing the results of the iAds system pulling location details so it can get location-based adverts.

  • Re:rotten (Score:4, Insightful)

    by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @07:54PM (#40705953)

    The article raises the possibility that Apple did not like the Clueful app because it discloses to users that some developers are in fact evil.

    Wouldn't that be a good way to weed out those developers? You're suggesting that Apple may prefer that people don't know which developers are the evil ones?

    The most likely reason is that the app fell into a technical TOS violation

    Why is that the most likely reason, as opposed to Apple just not liking the transparency that the app provides?

    Perhaps because the app sends user data back to the developer?

    Plenty of apps do that. Bitdefender says that 20% of apps they've studied send user data to the internet without notifying the user.

    Let's not conjure up headlines.

    What choice do we have? Apple put Bitdefender under a NDA regarding the removal, and Apple themselves won't justify why they did it unless they're basically forced to. We have no choice but to speculate.

  • Re:rotten (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @08:04PM (#40706037) Journal

    We have no choice but to speculate.

    Yep, and we should always assume the worst until they come clean. It's the only way to get a response.

  • by tapspace (2368622) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @09:37PM (#40706685)

    Agreed... which if the average Joe valued his or her own privacy and freedom to control their own device, wouldn't be the side that makes billions of dollars a year. But unfortunately, Joe doesn't give a shit, so it is.

    I seriously hope you're not referring to android here. Yeah, I want my phone to a direct feed into the servers of the world's largest targeted marketing multinational. I have an iPhone specifically because it lacks Google integration. If the average Joe valued his or her privacy as much as this, he or she wouldn't own a smartphone at all.

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