Avast antivirus developer collected and sold data on user behavior on the network. 400 million clients of the company could become victims of “monetization”; information has been collected since at least 2013. This was reported by Forbes.
As the recently appointed general director Ondrej Vlcek explained to reporters, in the case of Avast, “privacy has nothing to do with it.” He confirmed that the company was selling information, but, according to him, it was anonymized and could not be tracked back to users.
Vlochek said that Avast tracked user web activity using browser extensions. However, before entering the company’s servers, everything was supposedly deleted from the data that could indicate a specific person, for example, names or URLs.
After that, the information went to Jumpshot, which is 65% owned by Avast, where the data was analyzed before being sold to customers. Vlochek did not disclose what specific data was sent to customers, but according to him, they “gave an idea of how they use the Internet.”
For example, buyers could find out what percentage of visitors to one site goes to others. According to the Avast CEO, the data was usually bought by investors who were interested in the success of companies: for example, if Amazon launches a new product, then Jumpshot can show how interesting it is on the network.
The firm’s website says it offers “an incredibly detailed click stream of 100 million online shoppers and 20 million application users.” Special attention is focused on the ability to track what users searched for, how they interacted with individual brands and products, and what they bought.
Wlochek likened Avast to how information is traded in the healthcare sector, where data is also anonymized. He also explained that the company protects information, therefore, cannot allow anyone to access it.
We absolutely do not allow any of the advertisers or third-party companies to get any access through Avast or any data that may lead to targeting specific people.
Ondrei VlchekCEO Avast
According to Wlczek, Avast makes 5% of total revenue from selling data. Given that the company earned $ 430 million in the first half of 2019, this is about $ 20 million in revenue.
The first data collection Avast discovered Adblock Plus founder Vladimir Palant. When he reported this to Mozilla and Opera, companies removed Avast extensions from their stores. Palant also turned to Google with a similar request, but has not yet reached an answer.