Facebook pulls Onavo VPN from App Store at Apple's request

Tyrone Stewart

iPhone in handFacebook is reportedly set to pull its mobile VPN and data security app, Onavo Protect, from Apple’s App Store – because it has been deemed to violate the store’s data collection policies.

According to the Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter, Apple informed Facebook that Onavo was in breach of its policies earlier this month and suggested that the social network voluntarily remove the app, rather than it being done by force by Apple.

In particular, Onavo violates Apple’s new privacy rules, implemented in June, which prevent developers from creating databases from user information and selling it to third parties. Onavo is also said to have been in breach of a section of the iOS developer agreement that regulates how developers use data outside of their software’s core function.

Facebook acquired Israel-based Onavo back in 2013 – picking up the startup’s VPN and data usage monitoring capabilities. This acquisition would become a way for Facebook to collect data and monitor user behaviour in order to help inform strategies in other areas.

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