Lawsuit: Facebook Skirts Apple Privacy Rules to Spy on Users

FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2019, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Paley Center in New York. FILE - In this April 23, 2021, file photo, the Facebook app is shown in the app store on a smart phone in Surfside, Fla. Facebook on Wednesday, July …
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

A new lawsuit alleges that Facebook purposefully bypassed safeguards introduced by Apple last year to protect iPhone users from having their data tracked and collected by apps without their knowledge.

Bloomberg reports that Facebook (now Meta) has been sued for allegedly developing a secret workaround to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency privacy features that allowed Facebook to track users browsing activity.

Tim "Apple" Cook Flashes V for Victory

Tim “Apple” Cook Flashes V for Victory (Amy Sussman/Getty)

Mark Zuckerberg Smiles during testimony (Pool/Getty)

A proposed class-action lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in San Francisco federal court in which two Facebook users accused the social media giant of bypassing Apple’s 2021 privacy rules and violating state and federal laws that limit the unauthorized collection of personal data. A similar complaint was filed a week later in the same court.

The suits are based on a recent report by data privacy researcher Felix Krause who claims that Facebook’s apps for Apple’s iOS injects JavaScript code onto websites visited by users. Krause said that the code allowed the apps to track “anything you do on any website,” including typing passwords.

Krause developed a tool that can be found at InAppBrowser.com. The tool reveals just how much information these apps track. To use the tool, open the app that you want to check and share the InAppBrowser.com URL somewhere within it, such as by DMing the link to another account or posting it in a comment. Then tap the link and receive a report from the website on the scripts the apps are running in their in-app browsers.

For those confused about the process, Krause has provided details and instructions on the website here. When asked how users can protect themselves from being tracked, Krause said:  “Whenever you open a link from any app, see if the app offers a way to open the currently shown website in your default browser. During this analysis, every app besides TikTok offered a way to do this.”

Facebook acknowledged that the Facebook app monitors browser activity but denied that it was illegally collecting user data. The suit claims that Facebook’s tracking of web links that are opened in an in-ap browser gives the company access to personal user data.

“This allows Meta to intercept, monitor and record its users’ interactions and communications with third parties, providing data to Meta that it aggregates, analyzes, and uses to boost its advertising revenue,” the suit states.

The cases are Willis v. Meta Platforms Inc., 22-cv-05376, and Mitchell v. Meta Platforms Inc., 22-cv-05267, US District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Read more at Bloomberg here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan

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