There were a few instances in the last few years where the repos or built-in update systems of legitimate programs were compromised and bundled malware (and in one case, ransomware) along with their apps. In those cases, Apple also silently updated XProtect to remove the malware.
In this case, just because this was a webserver and not something more traditional like a trojan doesn't mean that it isn't still malware. The Risky Business podcast asserted the existence of the RCE before Apple jumped into action that it says Zoom knew about for months. Given that the only way to remove the webserver is to update Zoom (something that won't help any user that has already uninstalled Zoom, which kindly left the insecure webserver behind), this type of update makes perfect sense -- especially since Zoom itself is removing the server from its own application bundle.
This was malware, pure and simple. It wasn't third party software. It was malware left behind/included with a third-party app. It's not as if Apple removed the Zoom app -- it removed the piece of malware Zoom was including alongside its app. The fact that Zoom was including this malware as a way of bypassing Apple's access control in Safari (God forbid the user have to click a button confirming they want to open a meeting) is beside the point -- this was malware.
Additionally, users can turn off the auto system updates and they can disable Gatekeeper entirely.
I understand the broader concern of an OS maker being able to remove files a user chose to install -- but this is a very unambiguous
case of malware. Just because the RCE wasn't actively exploited doesn't mean it wasn't malware.
What Zoom did was negligent and incompetent, but I don't see that there was malicious intent. I do agree, however, that what they tried to do is unacceptable even if implemented competently.
But even if it weren’t — and we can agree to disagree on the intent — the second the RCE is popped, it becomes a massive security issue and it becomes traditional malware. As I said, I’m convinced Apple would do the same thing if this was something left behind or associated with Java or Flash.
But I will admit that I'm starting to see the question of Zoom's intent a bit differently after thinking about what you have said.
Instead you defended Apple fixing security issues in third party software (as I understood it without user consent) and you compared any concerns about that with concerns about buses intentionally running over pedestrians.
So apparently our debate took wrong turn and that wasn't entirely my fault although I will take some of the blame.
I agree that Zoom's intent (and even more so their methods) is icky. So perhaps we should have focused on that, because I can understand the reasoning that this makes Apple's actions look far more justified than I initially thought.
It is actually very competent of them, except for the security part.