Apple has removed several apps from the App Store for installing root certificates, which allows the developer to view encrypted Web traffic from their users. Some of the apps were ad blockers, capable of inspecting traffic at the packet level to remove ads. The root certificates bypass iOS data protection, encryption, and privacy methods installed by Apple to keep users safer on mobile.
In a statement, Apple said it’s ” deeply committed to protecting customer privacy and security,” before confirming the removal of certain apps. The most controversial app removed is Been Choice, an ad blocker that offers typical content blocking for Safari, alongside a VPN to turn off ads inside Facebook, Yahoo, and Apple News, using deep packet inspection to remove the native ads, videos, and sponsored content.
To do this, Been Choice installs a root certificate to reroute traffic to its servers. Users are then faced with a choice, block ads inside the apps, or make money selling your data to undisclosed third-party marketers inside the app. A rather shifty business model, especially when the app is suppose to make the Web safer from online marketers and advertisers.
Apple claims it is working with the app developers to fix the apps, but we suspect Been Choice and other apps that reroute traffic to block native ads inside of apps won’t be coming back. Mobile ads are the lifeblood for companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube on mobile, lowering that revenue could be detrimental.
Apple still seems committed to offering content blocking services on Safari, after results showed users saved money, time, and data when using one of the many content blockers. However, for ad blockers that work inside other apps, it looks like a no-go for now.