A few years ago, Facebook acquired a VPN app from security software company called Onavo. The app, Onavo Protect, has been sitting there, not doing a whole lot. But now Facebook is on a more concerted push to make Onavo part of your Facebook experience.
If you launch the Facebook app on your smartphone, pop into the settings and scroll down the "Explore "section (you might need to tap on a "Show more" option) you'll find a link to something called Protect. This leads you to an App Store link for Onavo Protect. But it's not just about protecting your data.
As well as doing all the usual stuff you expect from a VPN, like protecting data communications with encryption, Onavo is being used by Facebook to "collect your mobile data traffic". And while the initial excuse for this is to optimise the VPN service, the company also says it'll be using the information to "improve Facebook products".
Facebook already captures a massive amount of data about what we like, where we go, who we're with and how we feel. Adding network traffic will give them incredibly rich data about how we use our devices outside Facebook.
I'm calling it. This is spyware.
While the Australian metadata retention laws might be seen as a massive over-reach by government, I wonder how many people will just install this and provide a commercial company that has little interest in anything that isn't profitable with a far richer picture of what we do than any government scheme.
And, who's to say the data Facebook collects will not be subpoenaed or requested by law enforcement? Imagine what someone could learn by putting together all your mobile data use - not just metadata about a limited range of activities.
In short, no business on Earth needs this much information about you.
We last updated our list of best VPN providers in 2014, but a lot has changed since then. With Netflix blocking VPNs and privacy becoming more of a concern than ever, the parameters of a good VPN for Aussie users have shifted. Some popular choices have fallen out of favour of late, so we've had a look at what VPN users in Australia are recommending now and for the year ahead.