Facebook security app Onavo banned by Apple Inc.
Onavo Protect, a Facebook-owned security app, is apparently in violation of Apple’s rules and regulations and has been asked to be taken down. The social networking site complied with Apple’s complaint and the security app was then taken down.
Reports first emerged in The Wall Street Journal on 22 August after which a Facebook spokesperson confirmed its removal to Business Insider. The app shall still be available from the Google Play store on Android smartphones.
Onavo, an Israeli security firm, was acquired by Facebook in 2013 and since then has reportedly been a source of controversy.
Onavo Protect, the flagship app of the firm, offers users a number of security features, including security alerts and access to a virtual private network (VPN). The cons of the app include that it also monitors the apps that are used by the user and reporting the data back to Facebook Headquarters, a feature that the social network has used to identify competitors early and even prompt acquisitions.
The report in The Wall Street Journal stated that Apple came to the conclusion that the app broke its new rules on data collection, and told Facebook earlier in August.
Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, but a company spokesperson told CNBC:
“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.”
An official statement released by a Facebook spokesperson stated: “We’ve always been clear when people download Onavo about the information that is collected and how it is used. As a developer on Apple’s platform we follow the rules they’ve put in place.”
According to previous reports from the Wall Street Journal, Facebook has used Onavo to do everything from monitoring usage of competing apps like Snapchat to surfacing up-and-coming apps like videochat app Houseparty, and then cloning its core features.
It was previously observed by critics that Facebook doesn’t advertise its ownership of Onavo as the user has to scroll to the bottom of description in smartphone app stores to see that disclaimer.
It’s been called ‘vampiric’ and ‘spyware’ by people involved in the tech world.