“We work hard to protect user privacy and data security throughout the Apple ecosystem,” an Apple spokesperson explained. “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,” he explained. Onavo began as an Israeli analytics startup focused on helping users monitor their data usage.
Facebook acquired Israel-based Onavo in 2013, snapping up the free security app that lets users access a virtual private network, or VPN, to browse the web and download apps with a greater degree of privacy. In June, Facebook has admitted to using Onavo to gather broad information about which apps are popular and how people are using them, which it uses to improve its own products. “We’ve always been clear when people download Onavo about the information that is collected and how it is used,” the company said. Onavo Protect also allegedly violated a part of the iOS developer agreement that regulates how app makers make use of data outside the core function of the software. Onavo Protect is a VPN service, and yet Facebook has been using the traffic routed through its private servers for broad analytic purposes.