January 30, 2023

Meta is facing a proposed class-action lawsuit that claims it created a loophole for Apple’s privacy rules on iOS, allowing it to collect personal data without consent.

Last year, Apple changed the rules for iOS app developers by forcing them to seek user permission before allowing their apps to collect tracking data. The Facebook app on iOS therefore requires permission from each user, but as Bloomberg reported(opens in a new window)The lawsuit (Willis v. Meta Platforms Inc., 22-cv-05376) accuses Meta of skirting the rules and tracking users regardless of their choices.

So how does this tracking work? The lawsuit explains how the Metar Facebook app opens links in an in-app browser instead of the user’s default browser. By doing so, user activity can be easily tracked while skirting around Apple’s app privacy rules.

If this is indeed the case, it would technically violate Apple’s rules for opting out of tracking, but that would have to be proven in court. The lawsuit also claims that the conduct violates state and federal laws limiting the unauthorized collection of personal information. Meta has yet to publicly comment on the matter.

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In August, researcher Felix Krause discovered that multiple apps were using in-app browsers to inject JavaScript into websites to allow users to be tracked. Both the Facebook and Instagram apps have been verified to inject JavaScript, using meta as part of the JavaScript code, saying in a comment that it was, “to respect people’s privacy and [App Tracking Transparency] Choice.”

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