Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has had to suffer another defeat amidst the privacy breach storm that it has been dealing with for some time now. Facebook VPN app, known as Onavo Protect, is recently withdrawn from the Apple iOS app store after severe privacy breach allegations from Apple.
The Onavo Protect is a VPN app of the Israeli technology company Onavo, which was acquired by Facebook in the October of 2013, reportedly for a sum of nearly $200 million. Onavo primarily helps its customers reduce the amount of data they consume through wireless networks. It also provides other services, including analysis of the performance of apps in the market in comparison with its competitors.
Facebook VPN app was originally marketed as a normal VPN app to safeguard sensitive data from threats during file and data sharing. But what the Facebook VPN app did instead was that it supplied all the iOS users’ data at its disposal, which was mostly app-data, directly to Facebook. The company is accused to use it to their advantage as much as they could. Reports previously suggested that Facebook had knowledge of Snapchat’s shortcomings way before it was publicised through data obtained from tracking apps and that the Onavo Protect played a major part in this.
In a nutshell, the Facebook VPN app did the one thing that it was originally obtained to protect against, breach of data. Way to go, Facebook!
Facebook VPN App: How Did Apple Find Out?
Apple allegedly found out about the true nature of the app when it violated the guidelines of its app store, which had been recently implemented, the June of this year to be precise, to safeguard against the unwanted sharing of data with third-party entities. When Apple found out, it warned Facebook regarding the violation of App Store guidelines and asked the company to withdraw the app from their iOS App Store, instead of Apple having to remove the app on its own. Facebook agreed to the arrangement, hence withdrawing its controversial app from the app store.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has been accused of wrongdoings in this domain. Not so long ago, Facebook was accused of using the data of almost 87 million of its users, without their consent through the data analytics firm called Cambridge Analytica. This made it the biggest privacy scandal of all time, with it ending with Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, testifying before the Congress on Capitol Hill.
The Need A VPN App
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. As the name very rightly suggests, VPNs make it possible to protect data while sharing it on a public network by allowing access to virtual private passageways, reinforced by various dedicated connections and encryption protocols.
This provides a solution to a problem that is on the rise over the past few years, with reports estimating the financial losses incurred as a result of cybercrimes to reach $6 trillion annually by 2021.
Since the modern day businesses rely heavily on the sharing of sensitive information, it has become vital for them to make sure that their data is safe. For this reason, they are the major clients of VPN companies as of now.
What Next for Facebook?
Although this hasn’t been the best of years for Facebook, we cannot disagree to a fact that it is still a behemoth in its domain of social media. For all we know, this is just a minor blip on the company’s proceedings and plans. Even so, these instances prove that not even a company as big as Facebook is untouchable. If they don’t follow the rules, they will be answerable. Hopefully, this will send out a signal, not only to Facebook but to other companies to respect the rights of its consumer base and not exploit them for their own profits.