Stickers bearing the Facebook logo are pictured at Facebook Inc's F8 developers conference in San Jose
FILE PHOTO: Stickers bearing the Facebook logo are pictured at Facebook Inc’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

December 15, 2020

(Reuters) – Australia’s competition regulator said on Wednesday it filed a court case against Facebook Inc for misleading consumers over the use of data collected by a now-discontinued mobile analytic app.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the Onavo Protect mobile app, which Facebook ended in 2019, told customers it would keep their data private but it had instead been used by Facebook for research and identifying future acquisition targets.

The regulator alleged Onavo Protect, which let customers use a virtual private network (VPN) service, misled consumers in Australia between February 2016 and October 2017.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

“Consumers often use VPN services because they care about their online privacy, and that is what this Facebook product claimed to offer. In fact, Onavo Protect channelled significant volumes of their personal activity data straight back to Facebook,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement.

(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese and Sonya Hepinstall)

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