Apple Removes Facebook’s VPN App from App Store for Snooping on Users
Onavo Protect, a Virtual Private Network acquired by Facebook back in 2013, has recently been removed from Apple’s App Store. The VPN, which was meant to protect its users’ privacy, has apparently violated Apple’s data collection policies.
For some time now, Onavo Protect was accused of collecting too much information about its users, and through that, recording their behavior. According to their policy, this information included users’ names, phone numbers, phone models and operating system, every app on their phone and how they use them, the websites they visited, their IP address, etc. The VPN even logged users’ GPS coordinates and the content of their communications.
Before removing it from the App Store, Apple warned Facebook that their VPN does not comply with the company’s new privacy regulations, which limit data collection by third-parties.
What is Onavo Protect?
Onavo started off as an Israeli startup. The company initially focused on helping users monitor their data usage. Once Facebook took over, this analytical startup was converted into a data collecting device, which helped the company observe their users’ behavior outside of its core app. Despite being in the spotlight too many times, usually for similar rumors, Facebook didn’t back off and kept reassuring the public that its Onavo VPN was there for people to stay protected.
After losing the battle for net neutrality, US citizens quickly turned to VPNs, as one of their best options for safety and privacy. This also included mobile VPN apps, such as Facebook's Onavo. With the company's strong marketing, many users chose Onavo Protect for their devices. Apparently, it turned out to be the wrong move.
Basically, the app allows users to browse the web through a VPN, by redirecting them to a Facebook-owned server. This makes it excruciatingly easy for the company to accumulate data and enhance their own products based on the collected knowledge of how people use other familiar apps on their mobile phones.
The Founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, in a testimony, admitted to having used the app to gather information about other products.
Why Is Onavo Being Removed?
The VPN was not forcefully removed from the app store but was compelled by Apple to do so. One week prior to the removal of the app, the two companies had a meeting in which this issue was discussed. Apparently, Apple notified Facebook that their VPN Onavo Protect is violating their new privacy rules. According to these new regulations, developers will no longer be able to generate a database out of users’ information and later sell it.
During the meeting, Facebook agreed to remove the app voluntarily.
Virtual Private Networks are the first resolution that people turn to when they want to protect themselves. Using this against them and exploiting their data is both wrong and unethical. A good VPN service should shield you, hide your identity, and not allow third parties to get a hold of your private information. After all, VPNs were created for this purpose, and over the years they have evolved into an advanced privacy tool, suitable for every Internet user.
They mask your IP address, make your traffic incomprehensible by encrypting it, and they don’t track you or what you do on the Internet. At least, it is supposed to be this way. Unfortunately, Onavo Protect VPN was the exact opposite of this. So, if you want a decent replacement, one that will keep you protected, we might have a solution for you.
Best VPN Apps For iPhone
Yes, Onavo was free, but if you want to protect yourself, you need to learn one crucial thing. If a VPN provider comes for free, chances are it will bring you more harm than it will help you. Of course, you will find decent providers that are free, but even without a price tag, they do come with a price to pay. Most of them will not encrypt your traffic at all or will sell your information to third parties. Some of them will protect you but in turn will also limit your monthly bandwidth. Others will limit your speed and server number. Bottom line, if you want a good service, you will have to make changes in your budget. Fortunately, you can find excellent deals on the market, which will make it worth your time and your money.
NordVPN is one of the best providers in the industry when it comes to privacy and security. Their app is easy to install and use on every iOS device. Besides, you can easily set up the most secure VPN protocol – OpenVPN – by following their excellent guides. NordVPN offers double the security, thousands of servers all around the world, and excellent customer service. All of this comes at a reasonable price. If you are not convinced, you can always try their 3-day free trial first.
This Hong Kong-based provider has been in the business for more than a decade. Needless to say, it will meet your every need, especially if your main concern is to remain private on the Internet. If you are a first-time user, the app will automatically choose a security protocol. But, for more tech-savvy users, PureVPN offers additional security protocols, including a custom one called Stealth protocol. Besides, the provider offers secure 256-bit AES encryption, DDoS protection, a kill switch, and a NAT firewall.
If you are worried that your VPN provider might be keeping your logs, the best and most secure solution for you would be CyberGhost. The provider is based in Romania, a country where the EU’s data retention law was voted as unconstitutional. This is a guarantee that the VPN service provider won’t log anything that might compromise your privacy. Besides, CyberGhost has every other feature, from excellent security to many servers around the world.
Apple has once again proven that the company does indeed care about their customers’ privacy and security. However, if you want to take additional measures, choosing one of these three VPN service providers will keep you safe from third parties who are trying to get a hold of your information. Not only that, but you will also be able to enjoy all the benefits of owning a VPN.