Avast heavily sanctioned for selling its users’ data without their knowledge

Between at least 2014 and 2020, Avast Software collected, stored and resold the browsing data of numerous users without their consent. These practices earned the Czech publisher a fine of $16.5 million, decreed a few days ago by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The American authority, whose role is to protect consumers from abusive or misleading commercial practices, accompanied this fine with three other sanctions: the ban on Avast from selling data in the future es of users for advertising purposes, the obligation to delete the data collected, but also that of informing the customers concerned that their data has been sold without their knowledge.

Enough to further damage the brand image of a company which had already been shattered by a similar controversy in 2020.

Avast again pinned for its use of its users’ data

As reported The Verge, the illicit collection of data carried out by Avast was done through the antivirus software of the same name, but also through its extension, intended to be installed on the browser internet users. This extension notably made it possible to collect information relating to their financial situation, their religious beliefs or even their political opinions. The location of tracked users was also recorded, as were certain searches, for example those related to their health concerns.

All of this data was then stored “indefinitely” by Avast, and shared on a large scale with third parties. We learn that the group sold this information to more than 100 companies… all without users being informed.

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In its defense, Avast indicated that the data collected was systematically anonymized before being sold. An argument which did not seem to convince the FTC, which on the contrary argues that the firm “did not sufficiently anonymize consumers’ browsing information“. We learn in fact that the data sold by Avast included in particular a unique identifier corresponding to each browser tracked, but also the type of device used for searches, the browser used, the location of the user, and even the date and time of the different saved searches.

The FTC also accuses the Czech publisher of having fooled its users by touting the supposed ability of its tools to limit tracking on the Internet… when in reality it was engaging in © itself has proper monitoring of its customers, with a view to selling their information to third-party companies.

We are committed to our mission of protecting and empowering the digital lives of our users“, commented the Avast spokesperson, contacted by The Verge. “Although we disagree with the FTC’s allegations and characterization of the facts, we are pleased to resolve this matter and look forward to continuing to serve our millions of customers. customers worldwide“, he added. As a reminder, Avast claimed in 2019 more than 400 million users across the globe.

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