Apple Removes Facebook’s Onavo VPN App From App Store

Deepa Seetharaman, reporting for The Wall Street Journal:

Onavo allows users to create a virtual private network that redirects internet traffic to a private server managed by Facebook. The app, which bills itself as a way to “keep you and your data safe,” also alerts users when they visit potentially malicious sites. Facebook is able to collect and analyze Onavo users’ activity to get a picture of how people use their phones beyond Facebook’s apps.

Earlier this month, Apple officials informed Facebook that the app violated new rules outlined in June designed to limit data collection by app developers, the person familiar with the situation said. Apple informed Facebook that Onavo also violated a part of its developer agreement that prevents apps from using data in ways that go beyond what is directly relevant to the app or to provide advertising, the person added.

Here is the money line from Onavo’s terms of service:

To provide this layer of protection, Onavo uses a VPN to establish a secure connection to direct all of your network communications through Onavo’s servers. As part of this process, Onavo collects your mobile data traffic. This helps us improve and operate the Onavo service by analyzing your use of websites, apps and data. Because we’re part of Facebook, we also use this info to improve Facebook products and services, gain insights into the products and services people value, and build better experiences.

In other words, while you’re using Onavo, Facebook collects everything you do on the Internet — not just on the web but within apps too. As I wrote back in February, it’s spyware, pure and simple. I’m glad Apple cracked down on this, but it shouldn’t have taken until August.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018