Facebook's Onavo VPN comes under fire for privacy invasion

Facebook's Onavo VPN comes under fire for privacy invasion

Facebook's Onavo VPN comes under fire for privacy invasion

"We recently began letting people in the USA access Onavo Protect from the Facebook app on their iOS devices", Erez Naveh, Product Manager at Onavo, explained the situation in an email.

Menlo Park social networking giant Facebook has started offering users a private virtual network (VPN) application that tracks and collects personal user data. "This helps us improve and operate the Onavo service by analyzing your use of websites, apps and data".

Facebook already has issues with eroding public trust, amid its public struggles with fake news, propaganda, and misinformation spreading through the social network. "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", the description reads.

Facebook has used this tool for a competitive advantage against other mobile apps. So essentially the app could be tracking you in nearly every conceivable way. Erez Naveh, Product Manager at Onavo, told TechCrunch that the app collects mobile data traffic to "help us recognize tactics that bad actors use". This leads you to an App Store link for Onavo Protect.

If you are a long-time reader of TechSpot, you may have caught our report of Facebook's acquisition of Onavo way back in 2013. "They could spin this as saying they're trying to keep the customer protected all the time, but the obvious thing they are perhaps trying to do here is ensure that the user forgets Onavo even exists".

Facebook's Onavo VPN comes under fire for privacy invasion
Facebook's Onavo VPN comes under fire for privacy invasion

While the exact nature of the data being monitored by Facebook is unknown, it is possible that it could be used to monitor a user's browsing on any other site. Majority of the reviews lauded the new product while others blasted Facebook for another product that allegedly spies users.

IRONY IN TECH is such a tasty dish, with the latest serving arriving in the form of Facebook's "Protect" security tool that effectively installing spyware on iPhones and iPads.

CNBC, meanwhile, pointed out that Facebook is peddling this app "without first disclosing that it's owned by Facebook".

Point is, Onavo is hardly a VPN. It also appears to be saying it monitors activity across applications.

Facebook is encouraging some users in the United States to download an application that allows the company to track other applications on users' device, all under the guise of "protect" section that is supposed to help users keep themselves secure online. In the last few days, users have discovered a new option when you tap the hamburger button to access your pages, shortcuts, and settings. We have a guide to finding the best VPN service for your needs here, and that should give you some insight, depending on what you want to do (shift your location, encrypt your traffic, and so on). If you want to protect your phone without paying a dollar, check out our list of the top 5 free VPNs.

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