Apps and Games

What the App Store’s new privacy rules mean for you

Facebook’s privacy issues have been at the centre of discussions recently and now it appears they are using controversial privacy features. Apple has acted fast and a new report has emerged, outlining Apple’s plans to introduce more privacy rules to the App Store. This will ban developers from harvesting Contacts databases and this could let Apple remove Facebook’s spyware such as the controversial Onavo Protect.

What did this “added layer of security” really mean?

This new “protect” feature was introduced to Facebook back in February. Facebook claimed the service gave users “peace of mind”, however, users soon discovered their data was being collected through Onavo and then used to improve Facebook.

This “added layer of security” could be accessed through settings in the Facebook app and linked to the Onavo Protect app in the iOS App Store. It has been gathering information about “users’ devices, their location, apps installed on the gadgets and how people use those apps, what websites they visit, and the amount of data used”.

“To provide this layer of protection, Onavo uses a VPN to establish a secure connection to direct all of your network communications through Onavo’s servers. As part of this process, Onavo collects your mobile data traffic. This helps us improve and operate the Onavo service by analyzing your use of websites, apps and data. Because we’re part of Facebook, we also use this info to improve Facebook products and services, gain insights into the products and services people value, and build better experiences.”

How will Apple’s new privacy rules tackle these issues?

Now, however, Apple plans to introduce more privacy rules, which will ban applications that “collect information about which other apps are installed on a user’s device for the purposes of analytics or advertising/marketing.” Apple could therefore potentially have the power to remove the controversial Onavo app.

According to Will Strafach, a researcher who has studied Onavo Protect, Apple’s new guidelines “sound like they’re almost written in response to what Onavo and others have been doing”.

Currently, Onavo is still available in the app store.

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