We created Circle Go to complement the home Wi-Fi Circle experience. Like the Circle Home solution, Circle Go integrates several common technologies in an innovative way to serve families. This page describes the main components that together form the Circle Go product.
Because Circle Media believes that parents should have many options to support their families, we’ve built a product that tracks and controls online activity, both on Wi-Fi and cell networks. At Circle, we use our products in our own homes and on our own mobile devices. We hope we can earn your trust through our technical explanation of how we handle your data securely.
Circle Go for iOS extends the reach of Circle to mobile devices when they are not using your home Wi-Fi. It does so by routing your mobile device’s Internet connection through Circle servers in the cloud. These servers then track and filter exactly as the Circle device does on your home Wi-Fi.
Circle Go for Android also extends all Circle functionality to your Android devices when away from home, but it does so in a slightly different way. While Circle cloud servers are utilized for Circle Go on Android, most of the filtering and tracking is functionality is done locally on the Android device by the MyCircle Android app.
Circle servers do not retain information about your usage but forward it to your home Circle at frequent intervals. Circle does not aggregate or anonymize your usage information—we send it back to your home as quickly as possible.
MDM (iOS) & ADM (Android)
Circle Go for iOS uses Apple's Mobile Device Management Protocol (MDM). When you configure a device to participate in Circle Go, the MyCircle app pushes an MDM configuration profile to the device. The user of the device must specifically approve the installation of this profile. iOS manages this installation.
Just as the mobile device user must specifically approve the installation of the MDM profile, the user can remove it at any time. We believe in providing you, the parent, this control—however, upon removal for whatever reason, we'll send a notification to the managing device(s) of your Circle.
Server VPN (iOS) & Certificates
Once the MDM profile is installed, another configuration profile containing information for the Circle Go Virtual Private Network (VPN) is pushed to the device. From that point on, the device routes its data through the Circle Go VPN. To improve performance, when the device is connected to your Circle-enabled home Wi-Fi, Circle Go does not use the Circle Go VPN.
Your wireless carrier completely manages phone calls made using the Phone app and are outside of Circle Go’s management. This also applies to SMS text messages sent or received by the Messages app. (SMS messages are “green bubble” messages. “Blue bubble” messages are sent via iMessage over your data connection and are therefore not routed over the Go VPN).
The Circle Go MDM profile contains Circle Go certificates. These certificates allow us to implement a solution for TLS (also known as SSL) redirection that we think most users will appreciate. The Circle Go certificates enable Circle to redirect to the MyCircle app all filtered traffic, even from SSL or https sites. We use the ability only to achieve a user-friendly experience—we do not decrypt secure traffic and we take the security of our certificates and keys very seriously.
Similar to the ability to remove the Circle MDM, the user can temporarily (or permanently) turn off the VPN. However, our server will notice the lack of activity after a reasonable period of time, and will report this to the managing device(s) for your Circle.
Local VPN (Android)
Once Circle Go is activated on your Android device, MyCircle will use a “Local VPN” to filter the internet usage of the device based on the settings for the profile that it is assigned to. Your Circle Go Android devices will not actually connect to any VPN server, so there is no need for any additional certificates. Because of the nature of the Circle Go VPN on Android, the VPN icon will not disable itself when at home on your Circle managed network. Instead, the VPN will remain in place and active as long as the device is on.
Circle Go Risks
As with any Internet use, certain performance, security, and privacy risks exist. Circle Media actively works to minimize the likelihood of disruptive or intrusive events. To clarify the nature of the Circle Go experience, we outline known risks below.
- It is conceivable that the Circle VPN could malfunction in a way that makes your phone’s data connection unusable. If this happens, we recommend that you temporarily stop using the VPN. This will generate a notification.
- Another possibility is that someone could gain unauthorized access to Circle servers and use that access to view information about your current usage. Generally speaking, this is a risk all Internet users take—any server might be compromised. We have strong security measures in place on our servers and review them frequently. Additionally, information about your past usage is not stored on Circle servers.
Additional technical information regarding the elements of Circle Go described above may be found in Settings >> General >> Device Management for iOS, or Settings >> Security >> Device Administrators for Android. Feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any other questions.