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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Facebook Recommending iOS Users to ‘Protect’ Themselves by Installing Onavo VPN App

Facebook is rolling out a new ‘Protect’ feature for iOS users where it is urging then to install the Onavo VPN app on their iPhone. While this sounds good on paper, the Onvavo VPN app collects a user’s browsing history and data in the context of improving its service. Continue reading
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A Renowned Futurist Says We Should Merge With AI to Protect Humanity

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already besting human intelligence in a number ways. Google and DeepMind’s AlphaGo Zero is arguably the greatest Go player in the world, and it learned the game by teaching itself. DeepMind researchers claim they never even reached the limit of the AI’s potential, meaning it could be capable of even more impressive tasks.

AlphaGoZero is just one of many AIs under development across the globe, and as the industry continues to grow, these systems are going to get smarter and smarter. According to futurist Ian Pearson, humanity’s only option if it wants to maintain pace is to merge with AI.

Pearson made this assertion today, February 13, during a panel hosted by CNBC at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

“The fact is that AI can go further than humans, it could be billions of times smarter than humans at this point,” said Pearson. “So we really do need to make sure that we have some means of keeping up. The way to protect against that is to link that AI to your brain so you have the same IQ…as the computer.”

Pearson isn’t the first to suggest humans merge with AI. Elon Musk has floated the idea in the past, and he even started a company, Neuralink, to work on developing the technology necessary to make it happen.

Pearson cited Musk’s reservations about developing advanced AI during the panel: “I don’t actually think it’s safe, just like Elon Musk…to develop these superhuman computers until we have a direct link to the human brain…and then don’t get way ahead.”

Some foresee such a merger leading to the creation of enhanced humans.

During a World Government Summit panel on Monday, Sebastian Thrun, founder of Udacity and co-founder of Google X, said he believed AI would eventually make people “superhuman,” and last year, Ray Kurzweil, Google’s chief engineer, said AI would enhance, rather than displace, humanity.

In truth, augmenting humans was on a lot of people’s minds at the World Government Summit, which drew industry leaders, experts, and government officials from around the world.

“Such a gathering has been much needed and will help the international community embrace the enormously positive impact of AI while at the same time getting prepared to mitigate potential downsides,” Cyrus Hodes, Vice President and Director of the AI Initiative, told Futurism.

If Pearson is right, we’ll need all of those powerful minds working together to ensure humans remain in control of AI and not the other way around.

The post A Renowned Futurist Says We Should Merge With AI to Protect Humanity appeared first on Futurism.

Futurism

Facebook’s ‘Protect’ feature on iOS essentially installs spyware on iPhone and iPad

Facebook is rolling out a new security feature called Protect to many users of its iOS app. While the name might make unknowing users feel good about installing the associated free app, the Facebook owned VPN is designed to collect and analyze user data to “improve Facebook products and services.”

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