A few days ago,media reported a joint investigation by Motherboard and PCMag that found that Avast’s free anti-virus software collects user data that can be linked to individuals and sold/shared with third parties. After sparking a backlash, Avast finally responded by defending his own data collection policy and insisting that the data shared with third parties had been fully “deidentified.”
(Instagram via Beta News)
Avast said in a blog post that the data it collects does not pose a threat to anyone’s privacy: “We assure users that Avast will never sell any personally identifiable information to third parties.”
We expect all our customers and partners to believe that their choice of Avast was the right decision, while protecting their privacy rights and personal data.
However, this statement is the complete opposite of what PCMag and Motherboard found in the joint survey.
Avast says its behavior is entirely within the law’s limits and provides privacy settings that users can use to control the sharing of data.
This includes options that allow Avast to use its data internally for product improvements and analysis. Or, in Jumpshot, use the deidentified data for trend analysis.
Looking ahead, the company does plan to implement some changes, but it still can’t reassure many people.
Starting in July 2019, we’ll start highlighting the option of adding to all new download tests for desktops to replace the traditional opt-out mechanism.
In addition, Avast is promoting it to all antivirus software users who will see the unsolicited ‘do agree to collect their data’ option.
In a new window that pops up, Avast indicates that it needs to analyze the data to capture the threat because “that’s how anti-virus software works.” Agreeing to this will contribute to Avast’s security improvements.
However, the statement also states that users will grant Avast and its marketing analysis subsidiary, Jumpshot, the right to collect/sell data that has been “deidentified” to third parties.
In the end, Avast never confronted themedia’s findings in a blog post, giving the impression that everything they collected was anonymous, while Motherboard and PCMag insisted that this was not the case.