Leaked Documents Expose The Secretive Market For Your Web Browsing Data

Leaked Documents Expose The Secretive Market For Your Web Browsing Data

The Avast antivirus program used by millions has been selling highly sensitive web browsing data to third-party companies including Google and Microsoft. Photo: Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

An investigation has revealed that the Avast antivirus program used by millions of people around the world is selling highly sensitive web browsing data.

The investigation by Motherboard and PCMag relied on company documents showing that the data being sold was supposed to remain confidential.

The documents show that the Avast Antivirus Program collected data before Jumpshot, a subsidiary of Avast, repackaged it into different products that were sold to various companies.

Avast has decided to close Jumpshot following the investigation and revelations about the selling of web browsing data to third parties.

Jumpstart claimed to be “the only company that unlocks walled garden data” and seeked to “provide marketers with deeper visibility into the entire online customer journey,” according to a press release from July.

Some present, past and potential clients including Google, Microsoft, Pepsi, Home Depot, Intuit, Yelp, and Condé Nast, among others, were exposed to this scheme.

Included in the data reviewed in the investigation were GPS coordinates on Google maps, YouTube videos, people visiting pages on LinkedIn and people visiting porn sites.

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It showed that it was possible to determine what terms people entered in different sites, and at exactly what time and date the search was made, including specific videos that the anonymized user watched.

Browser makers Opera, Mozilla, and Google removed Avast’s and subsidiary AVG’s extensions from their browser extension stores, despite Avast having explained this data collection and sharing in a blog and forum post in 2015.