Facebook's Onavo VPN is Causing Serious 'Spy Issues' for FB Users

Facebook's Onavo VPN is Causing Serious 'Spy Issues' for FB Users

Facebook's Onavo VPN is Causing Serious 'Spy Issues' for FB Users

Unlike many online publications, we don't have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic. The Onava app does indeed meet the definition of a VPN, but the trojan horse of the story is that all the data running through the app is being used by Facebook to monitor every single thing a user does.

Unfortunately in some cases, this tracking feature isn't always disclosed so publicly, and in some cases is masquerading as something else. The feature sports a blue shield icon, and tapping it redirects you to the App Store listing for Facebook-owned VPN app Onavo Protect. But, without reading through the app's description, you would likely be unaware that Onavo Protect also sends your mobile browsing history to Facebook.

As a VPN app, Onavo Protect is created to route online requests through its own servers, which serves to mask the requests from outside websites and services. Of that total, 62% of the users are on Google Play which is probably why Facebook gave Onavo a push on the iOS platform. However, the good news is that the app is not activated by default and requires you to navigate to the Protect tab in the app's settings, and then install the app yourself.

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. It also offered data analytics services to mobile publishers to help them keep track of their app's performance. The app establishes a VPN connection, protecting internet traffic.

However, critics say that Facebook isn't clear enough about its affiliation with Onavo, implying that users might never know that the company uses the data from the app for such purposes.

'Like other VPNs, it acts as a secure connection to protect people from potentially harmful sites. Erez Naveh, Product Manager at Onavo, told TechCrunch that the app collects mobile data traffic to "help us recognize tactics that bad actors use". The clamor over Onavo illustrates just how fragile Facebook's image is right now. According to an article from The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is collecting and analyzing the data that Onavo gathered from its users.

'We let people know about this activity and other ways that Onavo uses and analyses data before they download it'. Not something many users of VPNs would expect or want. Using an encrypted tunnel, a VPN can prevent your broadband or wireless provider from keeping track of the websites you visit.

And, who's to say the data Facebook collects will not be subpoenaed or requested by law enforcement?

'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'.

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