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Apple bans Facebook’s Onavo Protect security app from App Store



apple ceo tim cook
Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, attends the annual Allen
& Company Sun Valley Conference, July 12, 2018 in Sun Valley,

Drew Angerer/Getty

  • Apple has banned a security app made by Facebook that
    monitored what apps users were using then sent the data to the
    social network.
  • Apple determined at Onavo Protect violated its new
    rules on data collection, and it has now been removed from the
    App Store.
  • It’s still available on Google’s Android,

Apple has determined that Onavo Protect, a Facebook-owned
security app, is in violation of its rules, and asked the social
network to take it down — which it did. 

The news was first reported on Wednesday by The Wall Street
, and a Facebook spokesperson confirmed its removal to
Business Insider. It’s still available from the Google Play store
on Android. 

Onavo, an Israeli security firm acquired by Facebook in 2013, has
long been the source of controversy.

Its flagship app, Onavo Protect, offers users a number of
security features, including security alerts and access to a
virtual private network (VPN). But it also monitors the apps that
users use, reporting the data back to Facebook HQ — something the
social network has used to identify competitors early and even
prompt acquisitions.

According to the WSJ’s report, Apple came to the conclusion that
the app broke its new rules on data collection, and told Facebook
as much 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.”

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said: “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
surfacing up-and-coming apps like videochat app Houseparty
and then cloning its core features.

Critics have long held that Facebook doesn’t do enough to
advertise its ownership of Onavo — you have to scroll all the way
to the bottom of its description in smartphone app stores to see
that disclosure; something not every would-be user may do.
Earlier this year, privacy advocates were upset when the
core Facebook app suggested users download Onavo Protect
without disclosing that relationship. It’s been called “vampiric
and “spyware
by pundits. 

A Google spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request
for comment as to whether the company will take action on Onavo
of its own. 

Get the latest Google stock price here.

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