Australia Sues Facebook Over Onavo VPN It Used as Spyware

Natasha Lomas, reporting for TechCrunch:

Yet more trouble brewing for Facebook: Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is suing the tech giant over its use, in 2016 and 2017, of the Onavo VPN app to spy on users for commercial purposes.

The ACCC’s case accuses Facebook of false, misleading or deceptive conduct toward thousands of Australian consumers, after it had promoted the Onavo Protect app — saying it would keep users personal activity data private, protected and secret and not use it for any other purpose, when it was being used to gather data to help Facebook’s business.

“Through Onavo Protect, Facebook was collecting and using the very detailed and valuable personal activity data of thousands of Australian consumers for its own commercial purposes, which we believe is completely contrary to the promise of protection, secrecy and privacy that was central to Facebook’s promotion of this app,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims in a statement.

Not sure why Australia is the only country suing Facebook over this one, because they did it worldwide. Previous coverage here at Daring Fireball:

When I say that Facebook is aligned with Epic in wanting to see Apple forced by government antitrust regulators to allow third parties to circumvent the App Store and install whatever software they want on iPhones and iPads (but especially iPhones), we already know the sort of stuff Facebook wants to do but is blocked by Apple. Spyware. Just outright spyware that tracks everything you do on your phone. They already did it, and used the information they gleaned from it to decide to buy WhatsApp for $20 billion.

Facebook’s frustrations with Apple’s user-centric privacy concerns and control over iOS run a lot deeper than the new mandatory privacy nutrition labels and upcoming ad-tracking opt-in controls launching in a few weeks.

Friday, 18 December 2020