A report from earlier today detailed how a change in App Store guidelines will prevent applications from creating and harvesting a user’s contact database. However, the new guidelines might just also allow Apple to remove Facebook’s VPN app Onavo Protect from the App Store as well.
The new guidelines ban applications which “collect information about which other apps are installed on a user’s device for the purposes of analytics or advertising/marketing.” While Onavo Protect is a VPN service, it scans a user’s device to gather information about it, the location of the device, apps installed on it, and their usage habit. Since iOS runs applications in a sandbox, Onavo collects this data by collecting and analyzing the data traffic from your device. Facebook says it collects this data for the purpose of research and advertising. A WSJ had used the data from Onavoreport from 2017 had revealed how Facebook Protect to shape its strategy.
Will Strafach, an iOS security researcher, believes that Apple’s new App Store guidelines have been written for apps exactly like Onavo.
Apple still has not removed the Onavo Protect app from the App Store but given that the app violates its guidelines, it could do so anytime. Apple might have also informed Facebook about this change and the latter might be working on changing the way how its VPN app works. The move will further worsen relationships between Apple and Facebook. The latter has already received a lot of heat this year for the way it handles user data, and it looks like it will continue to face the heat for the foreseeable future.
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