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Beware! These Free VPN Mobile Apps Have Been Collecting Your Data

Popular VPN apps have been accused of stealing user data from both Android and iOS devices.

Published
Tech News
2 min read
Weren’t VPNs supposed to keep your identity secure?
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Virtual Private Network or VPN apps and extensions are supposed to protect a person’s identity when they are trying to access platforms which aren’t available through legal channels.

But a new report from Buzzfeed News this week claims many of the popular VPN apps on Android and iOS which have over 35 million downloads, were used for tracking and collecting data from user’s device. That’s not all, the report points out all the VPN apps were developed by one company which is Sensor Tower.

The apps in question; Free and Unlimited VPN, Luna VPN, Mobile Data, and Adblock Focus were available on either Android or iOS platforms.

After coming across this report, both Google and Apple have removed them from their respective app stores, as they were violating all sorts of app store policies and also risking users’ privacy.

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Most VPN apps work to make users anonymous. Sensor Tower, in its defence, has made a similar pitch. However, as per the report, in order to use any of these VPN apps, users were asked to install a root certificate (through an external website), which is not allowed by Google or Apple by default.

Using root access, Sensor Tower was quoted claiming that it allows them to monitor "all traffic and data passing through a phone." And that’s where the concerns creeped in. After all, why does an analytics firm need access to all the traffic data transmitted through a user’s phone?

Enable the VPN to start browsing websites via a secure channel.
Enable the VPN to start browsing websites via a secure channel.
(Photo: The Quint)

Can You Trust VPNs?

Many VPN companies promise to use strong encryption to secure data, and say they protect users’ privacy by not storing records of where people access the service or what they do while connected.

A group of researchers had recently found out over 200 VPN companies mislead customers about key aspects of their user protections.

They also found programming and configuration errors in 13 of them that allowed internet traffic to travel outside the encrypted connection – defeating the purpose of using a VPN and leaving the user’s online activity exposed to outside spies and observers.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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