Security vendor Avast allegedly traded the data of millions of users globally with a number of free antivirus products. In the Netherlands, Privacy First and Stichting CUIC are taking Avast to court over the alleged privacy violations for over 5 million Dutch users.
Worldwide, 435 million users are allegedly involved. Avast is said to have collected the data via AVG Online Security, Avast Secure Browser and AVG Secure Browser, among others. Among this data are highly sensitive data such as Google search queries, Web shop transactions and also visits to porn sites.
A spokesman for the Dutch CUIC Foundation reports to the AD that they find it bizarre that this fervent data hunger takes place precisely at “a company that stands for online security.” One speaks of an “abuse of our trust”.
Free, but not without something in return
The spokesperson further stated, “It’s all backwards. You install an antivirus program to protect your PC and get spying in return. We think this is a big scandal.”
Rarely is a product truly free, it turns out. Where many security companies provide services for a monthly fee, there are still plenty of free alternatives. For example, the revenue model of the Czech company Avast is said to depend on data collection and processing. We see the same thing, for example, with major social media platforms and the increasingly accessible entry-level Windows over the years. More information about a consumer means more value for tech giants and third parties.