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Home / Tech / Antivirus maker Avast responds to allegation of selling users’ browsing data

Antivirus maker Avast responds to allegation of selling users’ browsing data

An investigation by Motherboard and PCMag claimed Avast was harvesting users’ data to sell to third parties such as Google and Microsoft among others.

tech Updated: Jan 28, 2020 14:22 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Avast antivirus accused of selling users’ data to Google, Microsoft and more
Avast antivirus accused of selling users’ data to Google, Microsoft and more(AP)

Popular antivirus maker Avast on Tuesday responded to a report that its subsidiary Jumpshot had collected users’ browsing data and sold them to companies such as Google and Microsoft among others.

“In December 2019, we acted quickly to meet browser store standards and are now compliant with browser extension requirements for our online security extensions. At the same time, we completely discontinued the practice of using any data from the browser extensions for any other purpose than the core security engine, including sharing with our subsidiary Jumpshot,” Ondrej Vlcek, Global CEO, Avast said in a statement.

“We ensure that Jumpshot does not acquire personal identification information, including name, email address or contact details. Users have always had the ability to opt out of sharing data with Jumpshot. As of July 2019, we had already begun implementing an explicit opt-in choice for all new downloads of our AV, and we are now also prompting our existing free users to make an opt-in or opt-out choice, a process which will be completed in February 2020,” he added.

Earlier, a joint investigation by Motherboard and PCMag claimed Avast was harvesting users’ data to sell to third parties. According to the report, Avast also recorded “porn site visits that are anonymized, offered the date and time the user visited the sites, as well as search terms and viewed videos in some instances”.

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The report said one of Jumpshot clients had paid more than $2 million for the data. It added Jumpshot clients included the likes of Google, Yelp, Microsoft, McKinsey, Pepsi, Sephora, and Home Depot among others.

It added Avast was still harvesting users’ data but through the main software instead of plugins.

Avast is one of the most popular anti-virus companies in the world. Its solutions are installed on nearly 435 million Windows, Mac and mobile devices worldwide. The company provides both free and paid antivirus solutions to end users and enterprise users.