Some time ago i tell yous an extension for browsers developed by the company Avast collected user data. What was not known was what they collected it for. Now it is clear
According to an investigation joint Motherboard and PCMag, the company behind the popular antivirus program you are selling highly sensitive web browsing data to many of the largest companies in the world.
The documents, from a subsidiary of the antivirus giant Avast called Jumpshot, show that the Avast antivirus program installed on a person's computer collects data and has it repackaged by Jumpshot into several different products then I know they sell to many of the largest companies in the world. Some past, present and potential clients include Google, Yelp, Microsoft, McKinsey, Pepsi, Sephora, Home Depot, Condé Nast, Intuit among other multinationals.
One of Jumpshot's most popular products is "All Clicks Feed", which can track user behavior, clicks and movement through websites with great precision.
Avast is estimated to have 450 million users while those that are for sale are those of 100 million users. Avast explains the difference in that it only provides Jumpshot with the data of those users who gave their authorization. Although the investigators could not verify it.
Avast sells the data on these browsing habits
Avast collects the data of users who register and then provide them to Jumpshot, but several Avast users said they were unaware that Avast was selling browsing data, raising questions about whether they really knew what they were consenting to.
According to information accessed by Motherboard and PCMag, Avast sold data that They include searches on Google, searches for places and GPS coordinates on Google Maps, people who visit companies' LinkedIn pages, YouTube videos viewed, and people who visit pornographic websites. It is possible to determine from the collected data what date and time the anonymous user visited YouPorn and PornHub, and in some cases what search term they entered on the porn site and what specific video they viewed.
Although in the data personal information is not included like user names, they still contain a lot of specific browsing data, and experts say it might be possible to de-anonymize certain users.
After it was discovered that it was collecting information through browser extensions, Avast decided to do it directly through antivirus. The firm began asking current users of its free antivirus solution to opt for data collection,
In the help of the product (the one that almost nobody reads) it is explained:
If they sign up, that device becomes part of the Jumpshot dashboard and all browser-based internet activity will be reported to Jumpshot. What URLs did these devices visit, in what order and when? » he adds, summarizing the questions the product may be able to answer.
Asked by Motherboard, from Home Depot they responded about the use they make of the purchased data:
We sometimes use information provided by third parties to help improve our business, our products, and our services. We require that these providers have the appropriate rights to share this information with us. In this case, we receive anonymous audience data, which cannot be used to identify individual customers.
While Microsoft denied currently having a relationship with Jumpshot, Yelp explained that it had been for the only time:
In 2018, as part of a request for information by the antitrust authorities, Yelp's policy team was asked to estimate the impact of Google's anti-competitive behavior on the local search market. We hired Jumpshot one-time to generate a high-level, anonymized trend data report that validates other estimates of Google's traffic drift from the web.