Facebook VPN ‘Onavo Protect’ Collects User Data Spawning Privacy Concerns

Internet privacy is a big concern for many, but it’s not just governments and spy agencies that are snooping on the things you’re doing online.

Technology companies are also tracking website users in a bid to improve their products and services. And they’re constantly becoming more powerful.

Social media giant Facebook is just one example of a company that keeps tabs on your internet activities. And it’s just released its own virtual private network (VPN) service, which is called Protect.

Facebook hasn’t been hugely vocal about the service, but according to TechCrunch, it’s now available as a free download iOS users.

Essentially, Facebook uses the service to gather data from its users. It will then analyse this information in a bid to “improve Facebook products and services”.

In 2013, Facebook acquired Onavo, which developed the popular VPN and data security service. However, it’s now available as part of the Facebook app.

You’re able to access the feature by clicking onto the navigation menu and choosing “Protect”. When you do this, you’re sent sent to the Onavo app.

As well as using the app to improve its products and user interface, Facebook has also implemented it to give users peace of mind when it comes to security.

Currently, it’s unknown how many users have actually come across the feature within the Facebook iOS app, or if the company plans to unveil other security features.

This isn’t the first time that the feature has popped up, though. In 2016, UK-based users discovered Protect in the Facebook app, although it’s unclear if the app will be launched overseas officially.

Another reason why Facebook may be doing this is to market the service. Users are being encouraged to download it from the App Store.

In the App Store description of the app, the company writes: Onavo Protect helps keep you and your data safe when you browse and share information on the web.

“This powerful app helps keep you safe by understanding when you visit potentially malicious or harmful websites and giving you a warning.”

“It also helps keep your details secure when you login to websites or enter personal information such as bank accounts and credit card numbers.”

Onavo has since confirmed that the service has come to  iOS users in America. Speaking to TechCrunch, product manager Erez Naveh said: “We recently began letting people in the U.S. access Onavo Protect from the Facebook app on their iOS devices.”

“Like other VPNs, it acts as a secure connection to protect people from potentially harmful sites. The app may collect your mobile data traffic to help us recognize tactics that bad actors use.”

“Over time, this helps the tool work better for you and others. We let people know about this activity and other ways that Onavo uses and analyses data before they download it.”

Learn More: Why VPNs Are Incredibly Important for iOS 11 Users

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