Why is Apple Taking Down Ad-Blockers?

Are you annoyed by the ads that keep popping up on your phone? Are you using apps to get rid of these pesky ads? Well, you’d better check your phone now to see if they’re still there.

Why is Apple Taking Down Ad-Blockers? Recently, Apple removed some apps from the App Store. Apple expressed their concern over these apps because they posed a security risk for the users. The removed apps and that installed their root certificates in the devices, which allowed their developers to monitor users’ encrypted data traffic. Several non-ad-blocking apps were removed as well because they employed the same deep packet inspection techniques.

What’s Wrong with These Apps?

The ad-blockers that were removed from the App Store used root certificates to analyze the traffic that passed through them. These apps installed root certificates to block app-based ads, bypassing encryption and other data protection methods, which gave them access to see everything the users did online, including their web histories and online purchases.

Apple’s web browser, Safari, can block content securely, which doesn’t allow these ad-blocker apps to track users’ movements and behavior. Some of the apps that block ads on Safari, such as Crystal and Purify, were not removed from the App Store.

One of the apps removed was Been Choice, a popular ad-blocker that claimed to remove ads, even from the Apple News app. These ads are a source of income for the company. Been Choice also claimed to be the first to block ads on the Facebook app by re-routing the web user’s traffic through a virtual private network and to its servers, where the app developers performed a deep-packet inspection to remove the ads.

This practice is dangerous, as the information can be intercepted by a third-party as it passes through an external server. This opens your information up to hackers who can, in turn, obtain your personal and credit card information for identity theft purposes and other forms of cybercrime.

What Is Apple Doing About It?

A statement released by Apple stated, “Apple is deeply committed to protecting customer privacy and security. We’ve removed a few apps from the App Store that install root certificates which enable the monitoring of customer network data that can, in turn, be used to compromise SSL/TLS security solutions. We are working closely with these developers to get their apps quickly back on the App Store, while ensuring customer privacy and security is not at risk.”

In 2013, Google also removed ad-blocker apps, such as Adblock Plus, from their Play Store. They cited that these apps interfered with the functionality of other apps. Apple did not list the apps that they took down because of the security risk.

Currently, Apple has no frameworks for blocking ads or other content inside apps, like they do with their Safari browser. The developers of the removed apps, such as Been Choice, are currently trying to make alterations to their apps to get back into the Apple App Store.

Maria Dublin

Contributor at Kami
Maria is a writer, an editor, and a law student. She plays for the Philippine national touch football team, and does a lot of travelling during the holidays.
Maria Dublin

Maria is a writer, an editor, and a law student. She plays for the Philippine national touch football team, and does a lot of travelling during the holidays.