Facebook’s VPN Onavo Protect, Collecting User Data

Facebook has a VPN app, Onavo Protect, for iOS and Android available to users and offered as a encryption solution to safeguard all information being transmitted over public networks. It is estimated that 33 million users have installed Onavo Protect on their phones. Based on reviews Onavo appears to be a reliable VPN service but please be aware that this app tracks and sends user data back to Facebook even when the app is not being used. This app has been dubbed “spyware” by some commentators.  

The application is accessed in Facebook by clicking on the main menu and scrolling through the “Explore” section.  It displays as a light blue shield icon with the text “Protect”.

Image showing the "Protect" option in the Facebook menu.

Image courtesy of Komando.com

The following is the Onavo privacy policy, which details the types of data collected and states that if you choose to route all of your mobile data traffic through Onavo servers that it may use this data to “provide, analyze, improve and develop new and innovative services for users.” Although there’s nothing you can do about the data that has already been collected, you can stop the app from collecting your data by completely uninstalling it from your iOS or Android device.   

Please be reminded that NYU VPN, which is available for use in certain locations, is available to all community members. NYU VPN will not collect information about your data usage, communications content, browsing history, transactions and sensitive information.