Reports believe that Antivirus firm Avast is selling extremely sensitive web browsing data to a subsidiary company named Jumpshot. The software trails users’ activities across the web, thereby collecting data.
Motherboard and PCMag published an investigation that alleges Avast tracks users on things like searches on Google and Google Maps, along with their visits to particular LinkedIn pages, YouTube and porn videos. This data, which is collected by the aforementioned Jumpshot, is then repackaged and sold. The list of Jumpshot’s clients is quite huge that includes Google, Pepsi, Yelp, Microsoft, Home Depot, and others which leaked user data, contracts, and other company documents.
A spokesperson for Avast said, “Jumpshot doesn’t acquire personal identification information, including name, email address or contact details and that users have always had the option 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,” said the spokeswoman, adding that the company understands and takes seriously “the responsibility to balance user privacy with the necessary use of data for our core security products,” the spokesperson added.
Reports also highlight that a number of Avast users weren’t aware of the fact that their data is being collected. They also raised questions about how the company collects informed consent from the users before collecting browsing data, including detailed information about the user’s browsing habits.