Apple requests Facebook remove its Onavo VPN app on security concerns

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Facebook has taken its Onavo data security app down from the App Store after Apple requested that it remove the app over user privacy and data sharing concerns.

The app, which was created by the Israeli mobile analytics startup Onavo, was found to violate Apple's company policy on data collection.

The startup was acquired by Facebook back in 2013 when it was known for its market intelligence service Insights which analysed data to help monitor market share and how consumers were using the apps installed on their devices.

In addition to managing how apps use data, Onavo also includes a free virtual private network (VPN) intended to help users protect their privacy and security online.

While the social media giant has removed the app from Apple's ecosystem, it is still currently available on the Google Play Store where it has been downloaded over 10m times. In the app's description on Google Play, Onavo clearly informs users that in exchange for providing a VPN and other features, it will collect their browsing data, saying:

“As part of providing these features, Onavo may collect 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.”

Facebook is constantly trying to learn more about is users' browsing habits outside of its social network and Onavo was giving it the chance to do just that. However, it would not be surprising if Google made a similar request to Apple's now that we know just how much data is being gleaned from users via the Onavo app.

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