News

Avast Fined $16.5 Million for Selling Users’ Browsing Data: Privacy Betrayal?

Antivirus Giant Avast Avast fined $16.5 Million by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for allegedly selling customers’ browsing information to advertisers while advertising that its products would prevent internet monitoring.

Furthermore, Avast has also been banned from licensing or selling users’ web browsing data for commercial use. The company must also inform users whose browsing information was sold to unaffiliated third parties.

Why Was Avast Fined $16.5 Million By FTC?

According to the FTC’s lawsuit, Avast improperly collected users’ browsing data through its antivirus software and browser extensions, kept it for indefinitely, and then allegedly sold users information it their consent or awareness.

The U.K.-based company was also accused of misleading users by claiming to protect users’ privacy by preventing third-party tracking. However, Avast neglected to disclose that it would be selling “comprehensive, sensitive browsing data.” to over a hundred third parties via its Jumpshot subsidiary.

Avast Fined $16.5 Million By FTC

ABout Avast Privacy Scandal:

Furthermore, data buyers may link non-personally identifiable information to Avast users’ surfing history. It would enable other businesses to monitor and link individuals and their browsing history to other data that they already own.

In January 2020, Motherboard and PCMag conducted a joint investigation exposing data privacy practices. The investigation revealed Jumpshot’s former, current, and potential clients as Google, Yelp, Microsoft, McKinsey, Pepsi, Home Depot, Condé Nast, and Intuit.

Prior to this month, Avast’s browser add-ons were deleted from Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Opera browsers Security researcher Wladimir Palant had previously declared the extensions to be spyware in October of 2019.

Apparently, Avast antivirus software and browser extension collected users’ browsing data including location lookup, Google searches, online footprint, etc. without users’ permission or awareness in the host PCs.

Reportedly, Avast decided to immediately terminate Jumpshot’s activities and stop collecting data from Jumpshot in response to the uproar about privacy.

Avast joined forces with NortonLifeLock, another cybersecurity startup, to become Gen Digital, the new parent company of Avast, which also provides AVG, Avira, and CCleaner.

Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, claimed that although Avast had assured consumers that its products would protect users’ privacy by blocking data tracking, they had received the exact opposite outcome. By using bait-and-switch monitoring techniques, Avast violated the law and jeopardized the privacy of its users.

Conclusion:

Avast is a major antivirus provider, known for its reliability and security. However. by selling users’ browsing data, they not only violated user privacy, and trust but also contradicted Avast’s claims of protecting user data. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took action and as a consequence, Avast fined $16.5 million. Along with the fine and ban from selling data, the company is also required to inform affected users. This case highlights the importance of data privacy and the potential consequences for companies that violate user trust.

About the author

admin

Leave a Comment