The popular antivirus program Avast has been selling users data to giant companies like Google, Home Depot, Microsoft and Pepsi, according to an investigation by Motherboard and PCMag.
It appears that Avast has been scraping data from its antivirus software and handing it off to its subsidiary Jumpshot. Jumpshot then repackaged the data and sold it, sometimes for millions of dollars. While Avast required users to opt-in to this data sharing, the investigation found that many were unaware that Jumpshot was selling their data.
Avast claims to have more than 435 million active users per month, and Jumpshot says it has data from 100 million devices. Avast collects data from users that opt-in and then provides that to Jumpshot, but multiple Avast users told Motherboard they were not aware Avast sold browsing data, raising questions about how informed that consent is.
The data sold includes everything from Google searches, Google Maps location searches, activity on companies’ LinkedIn pages, YouTube video visits and data on people visiting porn websites. The data is supposedly anonymized and does not include personal information, like names or contact info, but experts fear that it could be possible to de-anonymize certain users.