Australia's competition regulator said on Wednesday it filed a lawsuit against Facebook Inc for allegedly 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.
A Facebook spokeswoman said, "When people downloaded Onavo Protect, we were always clear about the information we collect and how it is used."
"We've cooperated with the ACCC's investigation into this matter to date. We will review the recent filing by the ACCC and will continue to defend our position in response to this recent filing."
The ACCC said it was seeking unspecified financial penalties against the social media giant.
"Consumers often use VPN services because they care about their online privacy, and that is what this Facebook product claimed to offer," ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement.
"In fact, Onavo Protect channelled significant volumes of their personal activity data straight back to Facebook."