When we install an antivirus software, we do so to protect our personal computers and the data on them. Now imagine a situation where this exact software is the culprit. You don’t have to use your imagination much more because according to a Motherboard and PCMag investigation, there is a free antivirus which repackages and sells sensitive browsing data through a subsidiary.
Avast, a free antivirus software provider with millions of users worldwide, is reportedly selling highly sensitive data through a subsidiary company called Jumpshot. The antivirus allegedly tracks users’ clicks and movements across the web. It also collects data on things such as Google searches, Google Maps, visits to LinkedIn pages as well YouTube videos. This collected data is then sold by Jumpshot to the likes of Google, Yelp, Microsoft, Pepsi, Home Depot and many other widely recognizable names.
According to their own claims, Avast has over 435 million active users per month. It collects data from these users and provides that to Jumpshot, which reportedly has data from around 100 million devices. Although this process is opt-in, multiple Avast users have told Motherboard they were unaware of these data collection and selling practices by the antivirus software provider.
On the basis of this revelation, officials in the Czech Republic have launched an investigation into Avast. Although the company is based in the Czech Republic, it is also widely used worldwide. Ivana Janu, president of the Czech office for protection stated: “There is a suspicion of a serious and extensive breach of the protection of users’ personal data”.
A spokeswoman for Avast said the company does not provide Jumpshot with “personal identification information” including name, email addresses and contact details.
Mere days after the investigation, Avast bought back 35 percent stake in Jumpshot worth $61 million and shut down the subsidiary.
Such practices do not align with our values at VPN Surf and you should be happy to know that due to our strict no-log policy, we do not collect any browsing information of our users.
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