Avast might be a company some of us use to ensure our PCs are free from viruses and secure from outside threats, but it turns out they have been a bit of a bad culprit themselves. It was revealed that through subsidiary company Jumpshot, that the company was harvesting browsing data and selling it to advertisers. It’s unethical (though still legal) for a company that is supposed to be the side of consumer privacy and not exploiting it.
The reports, which were the result of a joint investigation between Motherboard and PCMag, detailed how Avast was collecting user browsing data via its antivirus software. This data included Google searches, location lookups, visited URLs along with precise timestamps, and in some cases, even specific searches made on porn websites. The company claims that individual users couldn’t be identified through this data, though the investigation revealed that sometimes it could.
This news is quite disturbing and, in an attempt to save face, the company has just announced that they will be shutting down the company with immediate effect. So getting other people to do the dirty work for them and then letting all those people go straight away when busted. Talk about throwing people plunder the bus. Great way to make yourselves look like an even worse company Avast.
CEO Ondrej Vlcek has tried to paint a healthy picture of the company doing the honourable thing, though it is unlikely that they didn’t know about all this data selling and without any of the Avast execs choosing to step down themselves, it’s unlikely it will do anything to clean up their now tainted image.
Protecting people is Avast’s top priority and must be embedded in everything we do in our business and in our products. Anything to the contrary is unacceptable. For these reasons, I – together with our board of directors – have decided to terminate the Jumpshot data collection and wind down Jumpshot’s operations, with immediate effect.
You can probably still expect Avast to keep your computer safe from outside threats for now. It’s the information they have on you internally though that they seem to be less ethical with.
Last Updated: January 31, 2020