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Facebook privacy app pulled from App Store for allegedly violating people's privacy

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

23 August 2018

A Facebook app intended to protect people’s privacy has been pulled by Apple because it collected significant amounts of information about the people using it, effectively violating their privacy.

The Onavo Protect app claimed that it would protect user’s browsing history and keep them and their data safe using a virtual private network (VPN).

It claimed to do this by passing user’s web traffic through a private server owned by Facebook themselves.

However, this meant that Facebook was able to analyse the user’s internet activity—not just on Facebook, but on the web more broadly.

While the Onavo Protect app itself has been available on the App Store for a number of years, the Facebook app seems to violate Apple’s new rules regarding data collection that is not absolutely necessary for an app to fulfill its function. These rules were brought in by the company earlier this summer.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the social media giant claimed to have investigated thousands of apps to look directly at their use of user data. They also claim to have banned over 400 apps from Facebook over these issues.

However, with regards to the Onavo app, a Facebook spokesperson said this:

We’ve always been clear when people download Onavo about the information that is collected and how it is used. As a developer on Apple’s platform we follow the rules they’ve put in place.

The Onavo Protect app is still available for Android devices via the Play store.

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