Home / Technology / Facebook removes Onavo VPN from App Store after Apple says it violates data capture policy

Facebook removes Onavo VPN from App Store after Apple says it violates data capture policy

Facebook today removed the VPN app Onavo Protect from the iOS App Store after Apple decided it violates App Store data collection policies, reports Wall Street Journal .

Apple earlier this month, Facebook officials told the Onavo app, which acts as a virtual private network, to violate App Store rules in June that prevents apps from retrieving data to build advertising profiles or contact databases.

Earlier this month, Apple officials informed Facebook that the app violated new rules outlined in June, designed to limit data acquisition by app developers, said the person familiar with the situation. Apple informed Facebook that Onavo also violated 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 advertise, adds the person.

Facebook and Apple met last week to discuss the Onavo app, and yesterday Apple announced that Facebook voluntarily removes the Onavo app, as Facebook agreed to do.

Onavo, a free VPN, promised to "keep your data safe while browsing and sharing information online", but the app's real purpose was tracking user activity across different apps to learn insights about how Facebook customers uses third party apps.

When a person using Onavo opens an app or website, traffic is redirected to Facebook's servers, which logs the action in a database to allow Facebook to draw conclusions about app usage from aggregated data.

Starting this year, Onavo for iOS and Android had been installed on more than 33 million devices, giving Facebook a wealth of user data. Facebook was up front of the data collection in the app's description, but the data collected is now beyond what Apple allows.

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

It seems that the Onavo app has actually been removed from the App Store at this time. People who previously downloaded the app will still be able to use it, but it will no longer be updated. Onavo for Android will still be available.

Customers who have installed Onavo but will not be tracked by Facebook should uninstall the app from their iOS or Android device.

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