Facebook claims it is concerned about its user´s security and found the way to prove it. In 2013, it bought an Israeli VPN app named Onovo. Last month, it began to request iPhone and Android users to install it. It is supposed to solve cybersecurity problems. The first analysis of its functions was published and the results show a different reality.
It appears that the app increases Facebook´s opportunities to evaluate users preferences online. The app has already been labeled as spyware. More research revealed that the app keeps collecting data from users when it is turned off. Neither users are aware of the situation.
Redirecting and collecting the data
Other findings revealed that some data collected by the app is constantly sent to Facebook, no matter if the VPN is turned off or turned on. It includes the total daily WiFi and cellular data usage in bytes. In addition, it also periodically reports when the screen of the device is turned off or turned on.
A periodic bacon which indicates the amount of the time the app was connected is also sent to Facebook. Other findings from the researcher Strafach points out that information about the devices is also gathered and sent to the company. Due to all these findings, the researcher got interested in how Facebook is using all the information it collects. Is the device ID being used to follow users browsing patterns?
It is simple
Facebook reacted to their concerns and explained how they use the data and why they collect it. It assured that it works as other VPN´s available in the market. It simply creates a secure connection. Onavo only obtains the mobile data traffic because it is necessary for the process. It is an invaluable tool to help them improve Onavo service.
Onavo also justified its sharing of information with Facebook in the fact that they were part of the same company. Facebook stated that they inform well users about its methods to collect and use the data before users download the app.
Despite Facebook´s efforts to make it look simple a report from the Wall Street Journal added that this information might be misused. This type of data could be used to defeat competitors. According to the report, Facebook created a private network with Onavo and received information from the app. The data is finally recorded in Facebook´s database and would be subject to its control.