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Google Tells Developers How to Get Around Apple's New Security Rules So They Can Keep Selling Ads

A tiny but telling distinction between the two mobile giants.


Apple says it cares a lot about privacy. Just ask Tim Cook.

Hence, its new iOS 9 operating system will boast a new feature, called App Transport Security, or ATS, which is supposed to require iPhone app developers to use an advanced security protocol. The idea is to keep the operating system lock tight.

Google says it cares a lot about privacy, too. And it says Apple is doing the right thing.

But Google also says that not every app developer and mobile publisher will be able to work with Apple’s new standards, at least not yet. So, when those app publishers that aren’t running the protocol meet Apple’s new encryption, their mobile ads won’t run. No ads, less revenue.

On Wednesday, Google gave publishers a pointer. It published the five lines of code to disable Apple’s encryption, offering them a “short-term fix” before they get up to speed with the security rules that both Apple and Google are pushing. (It should be noted: Disabling the protocol doesn’t appear to violate Apple’s rules.)

That fix ticked off some people in the security world, who saw it as an attempt by Google to prioritize ads over privacy.

Late on Thursday, Google added this caveat to its post: “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.”

Both companies say they’re moving toward the same goalpost on mobile security. The difference: When ads and security clash, Google wants to figure out a compromise, because Google is an advertising company. Apple isn’t.

Update: Savvy readers have pointed out that Apple told developers how to disable this encryption before Google did, at a session at Apple’s WWDC event, then tucked the instructions into its developer website.

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