The analytical company of Facebook launched a new application this week, which, like many of its products, exists mainly to collect user data and package it for Facebook.
The application is called Bolt App Lock (currently available for free in the Google Play store) and is made by the same company behind the controversial VPN service Onavo Protect. The application was launched on March 5, as TechCrunch discovered today.
Bolt App Lock allows you to add additional security measures, such as PIN codes, fingerprint recognition or patterns, to applications that you do not want others to access easily. Some applications, such as banking applications and menstrual trackers, already require you to enter an access code or your fingerprint before you can log in. Others, such as Facebook, Gmail and Twitter, keep it connected for longer periods and could use additional security measures from third-party applications such as Bolt App Lock, Norton or KeepSafe.
Once Bolt is used to block a particular application, Onavo will know how often the user will unlock that application, a crucial source of user data that can be channeled back to Facebook. The application also informs about the general information of the device and the network.
People no longer like Onavo, which is best known for launching the Onavo Protect VPN service. Under the guise of personal security, the service collects data from users and sends them back to Facebook. Facebook originally acquired Onavo in 2013 to obtain more information about user data. Like any VPN, Onavo has an extremely detailed view of the browsing activity of anyone using the application, effectively serving as an intermediary for all requests.
Bolt App Lock has a similar disclosure about data collection at the bottom of its Google Play listing, where it says "We collect information about your mobile device and the applications installed on it." Then he adds: "Because we are part of Facebook, we also use this information to improve Facebook products."
Although Bolt App Lock is a new application with no more than fifty installations on Google Play, it is easy to see the same type of criticism that has been raised with the VPN Onavo Protect service. The main audience for VPN services and applications blocking applications are generally those who care about privacy and data security. It is not clear how safe they would feel to know that their data goes directly to Facebook.
We communicate with Facebook and Onavo so they can comment.