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Meta Hit with USD $14 Million Fine in Australia Because Its VPN App Collected Personal Data


July 28, 2023

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Meta Hit with USD $14 Million Fine in Australia Because Its VPN App Collected Personal Data

The Australian legal system just hit Meta with a USD 14 million fine because a VPN app it offered to users with the promise of keeping their data private was actually collecting information about them without disclosing it.

Even if it took a few years, Australian authorities have finally slapped Meta with a fine for improper data collection by the app Onavo back when the company name was Facebook.

The problem was simple. The Onavo VPN promised to keep the personal information of users safe, but at the same time, it collected a lot of personal data about the users, which they needed for advertisement purposes. Some of the information covered the users' location, time and even frequency of use. The issue wasn't necessarily that it collected this information, but that it failed to tell people about the practice.

"The failure to make sufficient disclosures ... may have deprived tens of thousands of Australian consumers of the opportunity to make an informed choice about the collection and use of their data before downloading and/or using Onavo Protect," said Judge Wendy Abraham in her decision, according to a Reuters report.

In fact, the $14 million fine sounds more like a slap on the wrist because the same judge explained that the sum could have extended to billions of dollars. Australians downloaded the apps hundreds of thousands of times, and each infraction carries a penalty of around USD $775,000. The judge said "the contraventions can be characterized as a single course of conduct."

Meta issued a statement saying that it had no intention of deceiving users, and that they now have new tools in place to help people see what's happening with their data.

Bitdefender can help you find out if your personal information and other key pieces of your digital identity are in the wrong hands. With Bitdefender's Digital Identity Protection service, you get a complete view of your online presence and learn how to manage your personal data to avoid privacy threats so you can protect your identity and online reputation.




Silviu is a seasoned writer who followed the technology world for almost two decades, covering topics ranging from software to hardware and everything in between.

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