The antivirus company Avast sells the browsing history of everyone who uses his free software.
According to research by Vice and PCMag. In large bundles of information “every keyword, every click and every online purchase on all visited websites” is sold to anyone who is willing to pay. The GPS information of smartphones is also offered, with which the most recent location of a user can be traced.
One of the databases offered for sale showed, for example, which precise YouTube videos an internet user has looked up and which companies he has viewed on LinkedIn. You could also see if a porn site was visited and what search terms were entered there.
Possibly, Google, Microsoft, Pepsi, magazine publisher Condé Nast and restaurant review site Yelp have been interested in purchasing the data. It is unclear who ultimately did this. None of these companies responded to requests for a response.
Data obtained shows that some companies wanted to keep the purchase of the personal data secret.
The information sold is not linked to a person, an Avast spokesperson promises. “We ensure, for example, that your name, address or address details are not shared,” said a statement. but according to experts it is still possible to find out the identity of some people.
Avast has been making antivirus software for years, some of which are offered for free. The user data collected with this is sold via a second company called Jumpshot, according to whom data on 100 million internet users has meanwhile been collected. That is a quarter of all Avast users.
It is not the first time that Avast has been caught collecting private data. A browser plug-in from the antivirus company was recently removed by Mozilla, when it turned out that he was sending an unreasonable amount of private information to the creator.