Analytics company Sensor Tower faced an accusation of furtively obtaining data from millions of users through well-known VPN and ad-blocking apps, BuzzFeed News reported citing an investigation it conducted.

The publication stated the company owned a minimum of 20 apps, including Free and Unlimited VPN, Luna VPN, Mobile Data, and Adblock Focus, without disclosing any connection to them.

These were said to have accessed data on mobile devices after asking users to install a root certificate through an external website, which would let them bypass policies on the App Store and Google Play restricting such privileges.

Combined, the apps were reportedly downloaded more than 35 million times.

BuzzFeed News noted Apple and Google had removed some of the apps following its investigation, and continued to look into the matter.

Sensor Tower told the media outlet it only collected anonymised usage and analytics data, which was integrated into its offerings.

Randy Nelson, head of mobile insights, told BuzzFeed News Sensor Tower kept quiet about its ownership for competitive reasons, emphasising the apps did not gather sensitive data or information which could reveal users’ identities.

An Apple representative told BuzzFeed News the company had previously pulled other Sensor Tower’s apps from the App Store due to policy violations.