Avast Harvesting User Data To Third Parties Including Microsoft, Google

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Data collection without consent, manipulation, and selling to third-party apps have had a consistent graph over the years. In a shocking revelation, it's been reported that Avast antivirus has collected and sold user data third parties, including Google and Microsoft. Avast provides antivirus software and security tools in both paid and free formats.

Avast Harvesting User Data To Third Parties: Report

 

User Data For Sale

Avast antivirus is one of the popular antiviruses and claims nearly 435 million downloads on Windows, Mac, and even mobile devices worldwide. An investigative report by Motherboard and PCMag has revealed that Avast collected users' data via browser plugins and then sold it to third parties.

The report, which gathered information on leaked user data and a few other company documents, has found that the "sale of this data is both highly sensitive and is, in many cases, supposed to remain confidential between the company selling the data and the clients purchasing it". The investigators gathered information from an Avast subsidiary called Jumpshot.

Avast Harvesting User Data To Third Parties: Report

Here's how Avast would harvest user data: the antivirus program, installed on a PC collected data. Then, Jumpshot would repackage it as various other products and sell them to big companies. Google and Microsoft are some of the big names that Avast has been selling sensitive user data to.

Avast Harvesting User Data

"Potential clients include Google, Yelp, Microsoft, McKinsey, Pepsi, Sephora, Home Depot, Conde Nast, Intuit, and many others," the report highlights. It further reveals that some of the clients have paid millions of dollars for a product that includes 'All Clicks Feed'. This enables them to track user behavior, movements across websites with complete details, and even clicks.

 

A copy of a contract with Jumpshot reveals that a marketing firm has paid over $2 million, roughly 14 crores for such user data access in 2019. What's worse, many Avast users were hardly aware that it was selling its browsing data, further raising questions of user consent.

The report provides a statement from Avast, which says it has stopped providing browsing data collected by extensions to Jumpshot. However, the investigation reveals that Avast is still harvesting user data, but this is through the antivirus software rather than the browser plugins.

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