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Australia Sues Facebook for “Misleading” use of Personal Data


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Bangkok, 16 Dec (EFE)

The Australian competition commission announced on Wednesday that it has sued the social platform Facebook and two subsidiaries for collecting and using “misleading” personal data, five months after denouncing Google for similar reasons.

In a statement, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) indicated that it has filed a complaint in Federal Court for the collection and commercial use of users’ personal information through the Onavo Protect mobile application between 2006 and 2017.

According to the commission, Onavo Protect was a virtual private network (VPN) owned by Facebook that allowed users to browse the Internet privately and securely with the promise of protecting their information.

“Keep it a secret. Keep it safe… Facebook’s Onavo Protect” was one of the slogans used by the VPN, which has since ceased to exist.

The Australian commission said it will seek a fine for the technology giant. However, the ACCC claims that the VPN collected data such as time spent by users using other applications, information Facebook allegedly used for its marketing campaigns and potential acquisitions.

“Consumers often use VPN services because they are concerned about their online privacy, and that’s what this Facebook product claimed to offer. In fact, Onavo Protect sent a significant volume of personal activity data directly to Facebook,” said Rod Sims, president of the ACCC.

The commission said it would request a fine for the technology giant, although it did not specify the amount.

A Facebook spokesman denied the accusations in a statement and said the application was transparent about how they collected and used personal data, while specifying that they will defend their position in court, according to the ABC website.

Facebook, which in recent years has acquired numerous companies such as Youtube, Instragram and Whatsapp, bought in 2013 Onavo (USA) and Onavo Mobile (Israel), which are responsible for the VPN.

Last July, the ACCC also sued Google for alleged fraudulent practices in combining its users’ personal information with their activities on other third-party sites without asking for explicit consent.

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