Avast collected and sold user data to Google, Microsoft and more: Report
New Delhi : In a sensational revelation one day before the Data Privacy Day, an investigation on Monday revealed that Avast antivirus, widely used by people on their laptops and smartphones, collected the user browsing data and then sold it to tech giants like Google, Microsoft and many more.
The joint investigation by Motherboard and PCMag that relied on leaked user data and other company documents 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 leaked documents accessed by the investigative agencies were from a subsidiary of the antivirus giant Avast, called Jumpshot.
According to the report, Avast collected the data from the personal computer of a user and then Jumpshot packaged it to be sold to the companies in different forms.
"Potential clients include Google, Yelp, Microsoft, McKinsey, Pepsi, Sephora, Home Depot, Conde Nast, Intuit, and many others," the report claimed.
In a statement, Avast said it has stopped providing browsing data collected by the extensions to Jumpshot.
Some clients even paid millions of dollars for products that include a so-called "All Clicks Feed", which can track user behaviour, clicks, and movement across websites in detail.
According to the investigation, Avast also recorded "porn site visits that are anonymised, offered the date and time the user visited the sites, as well as search terms and viewed videos in some instances".
Multiple Avast users told Motherboard they were not aware that Avast sold browsing data, raising questions about how informed that consent is.