Meta sued for allegedly finding loophole to Apple’s privacy settings

1 day ago

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A lawsuit in California claims that Meta is unlawfully collecting user data after discovering a workaround to Apple’s privacy policies.

Two Facebook users in the US are suing Meta for allegedly exploiting a loophole in Apple’s privacy settings to track user activity without consent.

The lawsuits, first reported by Bloomberg, accuse the Facebook parent company of not just violating Apple’s privacy policy but also breaking state and federal laws around the unauthorised collection of user data.

The proposed class-action suits could allow anyone from the hundreds of millions of Facebook users to join – in what could be a big blow to the platform.

Bloomberg said the suits are based on a report by data privacy expert Felix Krause, who in August claimed that Meta injected JavaScript code into websites visited by Facebook and Instagram users through in-app browsers – allegedly allowing the company to track user activity.

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

A Meta spokesperson told media outlets in an emailed statement that it denies the allegations made in the lawsuits, saying they are “without merit” and that the company would defend itself “vigorously”.

“We have designed our in-app browser to respect users’ privacy choices, including how data may be used for ads,” the company said.

Last April, Apple made a significant change to its privacy policy with the introduction of iOS 14.5. The change, which impacted ad-reliant companies such as Facebook, meant that users could choose whether an app can track their activity immediately after download.

“The changes are not only negatively affecting our business, but millions of small businesses in what is already a difficult time for them in the economy,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told shareholders while reporting the company’s third-quarter earnings last year.

By November, it was estimated that Apple’s privacy changes cost Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube an estimated $9.85bn in revenue.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com