Well, this is awkward. Apple is on the verge of releasing iOS9, a new version of its mobile operating system which brings with it new security rules, and Google has released instructions to app developers that show them how to defeat those rules in order for their apps to continue running ads.
It’s not as sinister as it sounds, but it certainly does raise a few questions about Google’s commitment to privacy.
The problem? iOS 9 will come with a new feature called App Transport Security (ATS) that’s meant to protect iPhone users’ data more effectively by forcing the use of a new, advanced security protocol onto app developers. Developers are expected to integrate ATS into their code, but not all of them are in a position to do so, resulting in ATS preventing their ads from running, which puts a dent in their ad revenues.
Naturally, many developers turned to Google to find a solution, which was a few lines of code that circumvented ATS entirely, posted to the Google Ads Developer blog. Just as naturally, some saw this as Google’s attempt to thwart mobile security in the pursuit of ad revenue.
Google has responded since releasing the workaround on Wednesday, saying that “We’ve received important feedback about this post and wanted to clarify a few points. We wrote this because developers asked us about resources available to them for the upcoming iOS 9 release, and we wanted to outline some options. To be clear, developers should only consider disabling ATS if other approaches to comply with ATS standards are unsuccessful. Apple has provided a tech note describing different approaches, including the ability to selectively enable ATS for a list of provided HTTPS sites.”
It’s a sticky situation to be sure, and likely Apple and Google will find some sort of middle ground that pleases everyone, but it’s still a bit worrying that The Goog is happy to prioritise ads over privacy while a solution is still being sought.
Are you a mobile app developer and has this affected you at all? Let us know.
[Image – CC by 2.0/RestrictedData]