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Home / Business / Facebook removes data security app from the Apple Store

Facebook removes data security app from the Apple Store



Facebook
Inc.


FB 0.59%

pulled out its data security app

Apple
Inc.


AAPL 0.00%

App Store after the iPhone maker decided that the service violated its data collection policy, as a person familiar with the matter knows.

Apple's decision extends the schism between the two tech giants for privacy and is a hit for Facebook, which uses the data collected through the app to find competitors and capture new product categories, the Wall Street Journal reported last year. The app, called Onavo Protect, has been available as a free download from Apple's App Store for years and is regularly shared by Apple app review boards.

Onavo allows users to create a virtual private network that redirects Internet traffic to a private, Facebook-managed server. The app, which presents itself as a way to "keep you and your information safe," also alerts users when they visit potentially malicious websites. Facebook is able to collect and analyze Onavo users' activities to understand how users use their phones beyond Facebook's apps.

Earlier this month, Apple officials informed Facebook that the app violated new rules designed in June to limit data collection by app developers, the person familiar with the situation said. Apple informed Facebook that Onavo has also violated part of its developer agreement that prevents apps from using data in a way that goes beyond what is directly relevant to the app or offering advertising,

meeting last Week, at least one of which took place at Apple headquarters. On Thursday, Apple officials suggested that Facebook voluntarily pitch the Onavo app and agree with Facebook, said the person who called the talks warm.

The app does not disappear from the phones of users who have already downloaded the app, but Facebook can no longer transfer the updates of the app. Onavo will continue to be available on Android devices, said the person.

The move comes after a summer push from Apple to bring the apps in line with the iPhone manufacturer's new guidelines designed to fill long-standing gaps that abuse user data. Apple has recently begun removing apps that do not conform to the new rules.

Apple stated in a statement that the updated developer guidelines make it clear that apps should not collect information about other apps for analysis or marketing installed on a user's device. "We work hard to protect users' privacy and data across the Apple ecosystem," said a spokesperson.

"We always knew when people would download Onavo about the information they collected and how they would be used," a Facebook spokesperson said. "As developers on Apple's platform, we follow the rules that they set."

Wednesday's move comes several months after Apple and Facebook managers publicly disputed their different privacy approaches. Apple CEO

Tim cook

Criticized Facebook's practices and contrasted them with those of Apple, which he said respects users' privacy more respectfully. Facebook chief executive

Mark Zuckerberg

called the remarks "extremely glib" and Chief Operating Officer

Sheryl Sandberg

She said that she and Mr. Zuckerberg strongly opposed the characterization of Facebook by Mr. Cook.

Facebook bought Onavo, an Israeli mobile analytics company, in 201

3 and used the company's app to create an internal database to track competitors, including young startups that did unusually well, the Journal reported last year. Onavo's data helped shape Facebook's product and acquisition strategy and paved the way in 2014 for the purchase of WhatsApp in 2016 and the launch of live video.

Earlier this year, US lawmakers requested more information about the way Facebook uses Onavo's data. In the responses, Facebook claimed that its privacy policy for the Onavo app makes it clear to users that their activities are being pursued.

Write to Deepa Seetharaman at Deepa.Seetharaman@wsj.com

Published in the printed edition of August 23, 2018 as the "Facebook Cuts Security App from the Apple Store".


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