The Cost of the Free Program: Avast is Accused of Selling the Data of Millions of Users

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Providing free antivirus programs around the world, Avast is accused of selling user data. It is also claimed that Avast earned millions of dollars from these sales.

According to a striking claim made by Motherboard and PCMag, the company, which owns an antivirus program used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide, sells users’ internet search data to the world’s largest companies. The shared report contains contracts and company documents that this data is highly sensitive and should remain confidential only between the selling company and the purchasing company.

According to the scandal revealed with the documents obtained from the antivirus giant Avast subsidiary Jumpshot, Avast antivirus program collects user data, while Jumpshot sells this information to the largest companies in the world. The company’s customers include companies like Google, Yelp, Microsoft, McKinsey, Pepsi, Sephore, Home Depot, Conde Nast and Intuit.

Customers pay millions of dollars for user data:
Avast claims that it serves more than 435 million active users monthly, and Jumpshot says it has data for 100 million devices. These ‘customers’ mentioned above are; It is reported to pay millions of dollars for ‘all click history’, which can track user behavior and movements on websites in great detail.

Information from Motherboard and PCMag include Google searches, location searches on Google Maps, GPS coordinates, people visiting companies’ LinkedIn pages, people visiting certain YouTube videos and pornographic sites. From the collected data, it is even said that it is possible to determine the date and time the user visited some pornographic sites, especially PornHub, what search term they searched on the site and which video they watched.

It is stated that the data is completely anonymized:
On the other hand, it is stated that the data do not contain personal information such as users’ names and are completely anonymized. Experts say it may be possible to rename certain users in some ways. At this point, another point warned by the experts; that free things on the internet are not really free. Users are given the recommendation “If you do not pay with money, you are probably paying with your data”.

Here is an example of data taken and marketed from Jumpshot:

Device ID: abc123x
Date: 01/12/2019
Hour, Minute, Second: 12:03:05
Domain Name: Amazon.com
Product: Apple iPad Pro 10.5-2017 Model – 256GB, Rose Gold
Behavior: Add to Cart

Avast is said to have obtained this data through the browser plugin until recently. It is an undeniable fact that data storage is a very profitable business model for Avast. At this point, there are even claims that only one company paid $ 2 million to purchase user data in 2019.