Facebook Agrees to Pull Data-Security App from Apple Store Over Privacy Concerns

Facebook has agreed to pull its security app Onavo from the App Store due to a lack of compliance with Apple’s privacy policies.

Apple officials told Facebook last week that the Onavo app violated App store policy regarding data collection by developers, and suggested that Facebook voluntarily remove the app, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Apple’s developer agreement states that is intended to prevent apps from using data in ways that are not directly relevant to usage of the app or to provide advertising.


“We work hard to protect user privacy and data security throughout the Apple ecosystem,” Apple told CNBC in a statement on Wednesday. “With the latest update to our guidelines, we made it explicitly clear that apps should not collect information about which other apps are installed on a user’s device for the purposes of analytics or advertising/marketing and must make it clear what user data will be collected and how it will be used.”

The Israel-based Onavo was acquired by Facebook in 2013. The free security app allows users to access a virtual private network, or VPN, to browse the web and download apps with a greater degree of privacy.

Facebook contends that it is transparent with Onavo users.


“We’ve always been clear when people download Onavo about the information that is collected and how it is used,” the company said in a statement. “As a developer on Apple’s platform we follow the rules they’ve put in place.”

The move by Apple looks to be a continuation of the previous sparring between the two tech giants over differing approaches to data privacy. Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has been openly critical of Facebook, contrasting the social media platform’s policies with Apple’s, which Cook contends is more geared toward respecting users’ privacy.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg responded to Cook’s charges by calling the remarks “extremely glib”.

Users who have already downloaded the Onavo will not be affected by the removal of the app from the Apple Store, but Facebook will no longer be able to push updates of the app.

Onavo will still be available on Android devices, the person said.