Facebook sued for using VPN to spy on users

Fb is being sued by Australia’s Competitors and Client Fee (ACCC) over how the corporate allegedly used its Onavo VPN to spy on customers for industrial functions throughout 2016 and 2017.

The social media large first acquired the VPN service Onavo again in 2013 for near $200m. Fb then launched an app referred to as Onavo Project which was subsequently banned from Apple’s App Retailer for amassing and reporting utilization information.

In its case, the ACCC is accusing the corporate of false, deceptive or misleading conduct towards hundreds of Australian shoppers who believed the non-public information they despatched by way of its Onavo Shield app could be stored personal and never used for another objective.

ACCC chair Rod Sims supplied additional perception on how Fb used the app for its personal industrial achieve in a press release, saying:

“Via Onavo Shield, Fb was amassing and utilizing the very detailed and beneficial private exercise information of hundreds of Australian shoppers for its personal industrial functions, which we consider is totally opposite to the promise of safety, secrecy and privateness that was central to Fb’s promotion of this app. Customers usually use VPN companies as a result of they care about their on-line privateness, and that’s what this Fb product claimed to supply. The truth is, Onavo Shield channelled vital volumes of their private exercise information straight again to Fb.”

Spying on customers

In keeping with the ACCC, Fb misled Australian shoppers by misrepresenting the features of its free-to-download Onavo Shield app between February, 1 2016 and October 2017. The regulator is at the moment searching for declarations and pecuniary penalties by way of its case.

In a press release to TechCrunch although, a Fb spokesperson defined that the corporate was clear in regards to the info collected when shoppers downloaded Onavo Shield, saying:

“When individuals downloaded Onavo Shield, we had been at all times clear in regards to the info we gather and the way it’s used. We’ve cooperated with the ACCC’s investigation into this matter to this point. We’ll overview the latest submitting by the ACCC and can proceed to defend our place in response to this latest submitting.”

Fb shuttered its Onavo Protect app final yr following backlash relating to the way it had used the VPN app to spy on customers. Primarily based on inner firm paperwork made public by the UK parliament in 2018, the social media large used Onavo charts to achieve insights into which third social gathering apps customers had been downloading to their units.

WhatsApp is a good instance of this as information from Onavo confirmed that the messaging service was a aggressive risk to Fb’s Messenger app. Shortly after studying this although, Fb spent $19bn to acquire WhatsApp in 2014.

We’ll have to attend and see whether or not or not the ACCC’s lawsuit is profitable however this possible is not the final time that Onavo Shield can be used in opposition to Fb in a authorized setting.