Apple and Google Require Developers to Remove X-Mode From Their Apps

Byron Tau, Wall Street Journal:

Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google will ban the data broker X-Mode Social Inc. from collecting any location information drawn from mobile devices running their operating systems in the wake of revelations about the company’s national-security work.

The two largest mobile-phone platforms told developers this week that they must remove X-Mode’s tracking software from any app present in their app stores or risk losing access to any phones running Apple’s or Google’s mobile operating systems.

Both Apple and Google disclosed their decision to ban X-Mode to investigators working for Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), who has been conducting an investigation into the sale of location data to government entities.

For months, Tau has been covering the purchase of X-Mode location data without a warrant along with Joseph Cox of Motherboard. X-Mode says that it is just one of many advertising and location data providers, and it is right: I hope there are continued efforts to crack down on abuses of data collection. But those efforts should be coming in the form of legislation and regulation, not by companies playing Whack-a-Mole after reports like these.