Facebook Sees Onavo Data Harvesting App Punted From Apple App Store

Here’s Facebook’s latest PR crisis involving user privacy.

Apple has removed Facebook’s Onavo quasi VPN and security app from the App Store because it violated the company’s privacy rules. In a statement to CNBC, an Apple spokesperson said this:

We work hard to protect user privacy and data security throughout the Apple ecosystem. With the latest update to our guidelines, we made it explicitly clear that apps should not collect information about which other apps are installed on a user’s device for the purposes of analytics or advertising/marketing and must make it clear what user data will be collected and how it will be used.

When the app first appeared a while back, it became pretty clear that its purpose wasn’t security, but to snag a ton of app usage data and send it to Facebook as that would be an invaluable bird’s-eye view into mobile trends by observing which apps are gaining traction and which are fizzling out. Because of how invasive Onavo is, actual VPN companies like NordVPN called them out on this and so has VPNSpecial. Thus it is kind of surprising that it took this long for Apple to give this app the boot. But it is still available on Google Play. At least for now. In any case, regardless of whether you are on Team iPhone or Team Android, if you have this app installed and you value your privacy, you should delete it ASAP.


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