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Facebook’s Onavo Protect VPN App Is Removed from the App Store for Harvesting Data

As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook has removed its Onavo Protect VPN app from the App Store after Apple said the app violated rules against data gathering. The app was acquired by Facebook in 2013 as part of its purchase of an Israeli company.

Onavo collected user data using network traffic to provide market intelligence to Facebook about the popularity and use of apps outside its own apps. TechCrunch reported on Onavo’s data collection practices back in February. In June during WWDC, Apple introduced new App Review Guidelines addressing data harvasting, which struck some as a direct response to Onavo.

In a statement to The Verge, Facebook said:

“We’ve always been clear when people download Onavo about the information that is collected and how it is used,” said a Facebook spokesperson in a statement given to The Verge. “As a developer on Apple’s platform, we follow the rules they’ve put in place.”

It’s good to see Apple enforce App Review guidelines against companies of all sizes, though a little disappointing that it has taken so long.

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