Facebook user sues Meta, accusing the company of tracking on iOS through loopholes

Apple Major privacy updates for iOS Last year made it much more difficult for apps to track user behavior across borders, but a new lawsuit alleges Facebook and Instagram’s parent company Meta continued snooping through workarounds. increase.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and embedded below, shows Meta monitoring users via Facebook’s in-app browser and opening links within the app to violate Apple’s new restrictions. claimed to have avoidedThe proposed class action lawsuit was first reported by bloombergcould allow anyone affected to sign on, and in the case of Facebook, that could mean hundreds of millions of users in the United States.

In the lawsuit, two Facebook users allege that Meta violates not only Apple’s policies, but also state and federal privacy laws. eavesdropping lawThis makes it illegal to intercept electronic communications without consent. Another similar complaint (Mitchell v. Meta Platforms Inc.) was filed last week.

Plaintiffs allege that Meta tracks users’ online activities, floods them into Facebook’s built-in web browser, and injects JavaScript into sites they visit. The code allows the company to monitor “all interactions with external websites.” This includes where the user tapped, what password or other text was entered, etc.

Currently, Meta tracks Facebook users’ online activities and communications with external third-party websites by inserting JavaScript code into those sites, even if the user has not consented to the tracking. When a user clicks on a link within the Facebook app, Meta automatically directs the user to the in-app browser he monitors instead of his smartphone’s default browser, but it’s not clear that this is happening or being tracked. We do not notify the user of this.

Apple introduced iOS 14.5 last April, big blow To social media company Like Meta, which relies on tracking user behavior for advertising purposes. As the company prepares investors to adapt to the new normal of the ad targeting business, in its earnings call he specifically cites changes to iOS, saying Apple’s privacy changes are “headwinds” that must be overcome. I explained.

In a statement emailed to TechCrunch, a Meta spokesperson said the allegations were “baseless” and that the company would “vigorously” defend them. A spokesperson said, “The in-app browser is carefully designed to respect your privacy choices, including how your data is used for advertising.

In a new iOS privacy prompt, Apple asks if users agree to track their activity “across other companies’ apps and websites.” An opted-out user may reasonably believe she is using her web browser outside when opening links within Facebook or Instagram, but the company could argue the opposite. There is a nature.

Security Researcher Felix Krause Concerns about Facebook and Instagram in-app browsers surface Last month, the lawsuit drew heavily from his report. He urged Meta to direct users to Safari or another external browser to close the loophole.

“Do what Meta already does with WhatsApp. Stop modifying third party websites and use Safari or SFSafariViewController for all third party websites,” Krause wrote in a blog post. I am writing. “That’s what’s best for users, and it’s the right thing to do.”

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