Porn and gambling companies are sneaking private apps on the iPhone, using the same tool that Apple busted Facebook and Google for inappropriately using last month. TechCrunch uncovered two dozen of these apps using Apple’s “developer enterprise program” to get loaded onto iOS devices outside of the App Store. Apple bans porn within apps, while gambling apps are permitted but strictly overseen.

There’s no indication that these apps inappropriately collected data on users, but they clearly violated Apple’s enterprise program rules, which only allow distribution to employees of the company they’re being issued by. When TechCrunch uncovered last month that Facebook and Google used those programs to distribute apps externally, both companies had their ability to use all of their enterprise apps temporarily shut down.

At this point, it’s clear there’s an issue with how Apple oversees its enterprise app program. While it’s a necessary service — companies need ways to distribute internal tools and more powerful apps, without going through the App Store — these violations from companies big and small suggest there’s not enough oversight on how it’s being used. That could be a problem if a bad actor were using it to install apps that closely monitored a user in ways that are otherwise banned.

Apple has pulled several of the apps identified by TechCrunch, and it said in a statement that developers who abuse the program will have their ability to distribute apps terminated; they may also be cut off from the program permanently. “We are continuously evaluating the cases of misuse and are prepared to take immediate action,” Apple said.

TechCrunch has more details on how the apps were being distributed. The article is worth checking out for the screenshot of the unapproved porn apps’ ridiculous icons alone.



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