Updated Jan 30, 2019

Apple pulls the plug on Facebook employees in data app conflict

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Apple cut off iPhone-using Facebook employees' access to their employer's internal apps Wednesday as fallout spread from yesterday's report of a cash-for-data "research" program by Facebook that broke Apple's rules.

Why it matters: Apple could have simply shut off the controversial research app, but it took the tougher line on Facebook here, emphasizing both the seriousness of the violation and its own determination to brand itself as the more privacy-oriented of the tech giants.

  • Business Insider reports that, inside Facebook, employees can no longer launch internal builds of Messenger, Instagram and Workplace, Facebook's business app.
  • In an internal memo leaked to the site, a Facebook executive wrote, "We're working closely with Apple to reinstate our most critical internal apps immediately."

Meanwhile, TechCrunch reports that since 2012, Google has operated a research app on iOS similar to Facebook's, called Screenwise Meter, that may also be distributed to consumers in violation of Apple's terms.

  • Update: Google apologized for misusing Apple's enterprise app program and said it will no longer distribute the app in that way, according to a statement to TechCrunch. “The Screenwise Meter iOS app should not have operated under Apple’s developer enterprise program — this was a mistake, and we apologize. We have disabled this app on iOS devices." Like Facebook, though, Google said it was upfront with users about how their data would be used.

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World coronavirus updates: London mayor says U.K. a week away from worst of virus

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered hope in the fight against the novel coronavirus, saying she believes New Zealand has "turned a corner" after two weeks of strict lockdown measures. But London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the U.K. is "nowhere near" lifting restrictions.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed over 82,000 people and infected 1.4 million others globally as of early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Global recoveries have surpassed 301,000. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 141,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 17,000). Half the planet's population is on lockdown.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 10 mins ago - Health

Wisconsin may be the start of the 2020 election wars

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wisconsin voters braving lines in face masks — after a last-minute Supreme Court ruling against extending the absentee deadline — could foreshadow a nationwide legal struggle over how to conduct elections during the coronavirus outbreak, election experts say.

Why it matters: "It's a harbinger of what's to come in the next skirmishes in the voting wars" from now through November, Richard Hasen, a professor and national election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, told Axios.

New Zealand sets sights on coronavirus elimination after 2 weeks of lockdown

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gives a coronavirus media update at the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington. Photo: Mark Mitchell - Pool/Getty Images

AUCKLAND -- New Zealand has flattened the curve of novel coronavirus cases after two weeks of lockdown and the next phase is to "squash it," Professor Shaun Hendy, who heads a scientific body advising the government on COVID-19, told Axios.

Why it matters: The country imposed 14 days ago some of the toughest restrictions in the world in response to the pandemic, despite confirming only 102 cases and no deaths at the time.