Avast stops selling user data

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Security company Avast stops selling user data to companies. Earlier this week, the company came under fire for collecting pseudonymised data. The company apologizes.

Avast CEO Ondrej Vlcek says in a blog post that the company will immediately stop the activities of its subsidiary Jumpshop. Avast received a lot of criticism this week after a joint publication by Vice and PCMag. They reported that the security company collected data from users, including browsing history, via the free desktop version of the software. They were sold on pseudonymized to large companies such as Google and Home Depot. Experts discovered that sometimes it was still possible to trace the original user. The data collection was done by a subsidiary of Avast, called Jumpshot.

In his blog post, Vlcek apologizes. “As CEO of Avast, I feel personally responsible,” he writes. “Protecting people is our top priority and anything we do is unacceptable.” According to Vlcek, the board of Avast has decided that Jumpshot will stop collecting data and the company will be closed. That happens immediately. Vlcek also explains how he came to this decision. He suggests that he came up with it himself. “When I took office as CEO seven months ago, I spent a lot of time re-evaluating all of our business services. In doing so, I came to the conclusion that data collection does not fit our privacy priorities for 2020 and beyond.” Vlcek says Avast started Jumpshot in 2015 because “cybersecurity was going to be a big data game.” He says the company has always stayed within legal frameworks and has always adhered to laws such as the GDPR.

According to Vlcek, stopping Jumpshot is “the right thing to do.” However, ‘hundreds of loyal Jumpshot employees and dozens of customers are the victims’. Vlcek also thanks the users, ‘whose feedback accelerated our decision to take action’.

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