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Leaked Documents Expose the Secretive Market for Your Web Browsing Data

Avast CEO Ondřej Vlček PHOTO: Twitter

An Avast antivirus subsidiary sells ‘Every search. Every click. Every buy. On every site.’ Its clients have included Home Depot, Google, Microsoft, Pepsi, and McKinsey.

By Joseph Cox | 27 January 2020

VICE (MOTHERBOARD) — An antivirus program used by hundreds of millions of people around the world is selling highly sensitive web browsing data to many of the world’s biggest companies, a joint investigation by Motherboard and PCMag has found. Our report relies on leaked user data, contracts, and other company documents that show the sale of this data is both highly sensitive and is in many cases supposed to remain confidential between the company selling the data and the clients purchasing it.

The documents, from a subsidiary of the antivirus giant Avast called Jumpshot, shine new light on the secretive sale and supply chain of peoples’ internet browsing histories. They show that the Avast antivirus program installed on a person’s computer collects data, and that Jumpshot repackages it into various different products that are then sold to many of the largest companies in the world. Some past, present, and potential clients include Google, Yelp, Microsoft, McKinsey, Pepsi, Home Depot, Condé Nast, Intuit, and many others. Some clients paid millions of dollars for products that include a so-called “All Clicks Feed,” which can track user behavior, clicks, and movement across websites in highly precise detail.

Avast claims to have more than 435 million active users per month, and Jumpshot says it has data from 100 million devices. Avast collects data from users that opt-in and then provides that to Jumpshot, but multiple Avast users told Motherboard they were not aware Avast sold browsing data, raising questions about how informed that consent is.

The data obtained by Motherboard and PCMag includes Google searches, lookups of locations and GPS coordinates on Google Maps, people visiting companies’ LinkedIn pages, particular YouTube videos, and people visiting porn websites. It is possible to determine from the collected data what date and time the anonymized user visited YouPorn and PornHub, and in some cases what search term they entered into the porn site and which specific video they watched. […]

The new CEO of Avast is an inconspicuous Czech billionaire Ondřej Vlček

Winter Watch editor’s note: This article was translated from Czech via Google Translate.

By Michael Mareš | 13 March 2019

FORTUNE — After 10 years, Avast is the CEO. The company, whose cybersecurity solution protects nearly half a billion users around the world, announced on Wednesday (again record-breaking) results for 2018 that Vince Steckler will retire as of June 30 and will be replaced by Ondřej Vlček, former president of the Consumer Division.

It’s a logical choice. Vlček has been working in Avast since 1995, when he came to the brigade. Today he is one of the co-owners and last year’s company entry to the stock market brought him to our billionaire ranking among the 80 richest Czechs .

Ondřej Vlček met the founders of Avast Eduard Kučera and Pavel Baudiš in the mid-1990s when he completed his first year at the Faculty of Nuclear Sciences of the Czech Technical University. He was looking for a job at the time and his friend’s father connected them to two engineers of the then flourishing software company Alwil. […]

1 Comment on Leaked Documents Expose the Secretive Market for Your Web Browsing Data

  1. Note to translate: use Chrome and click on “translate?” button.

    Used Avast several years ago and even then it seemed as if it was “spying”on me! After about a week or two I disabled it and then uninstalled it.

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