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Avast sold browsing data of users to Google, Microsoft, IBM and others: Reports

Avast, a maker of anti-virus software, has been selling users’ data to companies such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, Home Depot, sometimes for millions of dollars, a joint investigation by Vice and PCMag found. The harvesting of data is reportedly done by the Avast anti-virus software itself. Avast scraped  data from users’ computer, and it handed it over to its subsidiary Jumpshot, which then repackaged the data before selling it to other companies, the investigation revealed. It said that while Avast required users to opt-in to the data sharing exercise, several users were unaware that Jumpshot was selling it to other companies. Information in the database: The data being sold by Jumpshot, includes Google searches, Google Maps location searches, activity on companies' LinkedIn pages, YouTube video visits and data on people visiting porn websites, Vice reported. It is also possible to determine at what date and time a user might have visited a porn site, including the search terms they might have entered on those websites, it said. It should be noted that the data does not include personal information of users such as their names, but Vice pointed out due to the availability of such specific browser data, the anonymised data can potentially be traced back to a user. Avast claims to have more than 435 million users, while Jumpshot has previously said that it has access to data from a 100 million devices, Vice noted. “Jumpshot's data could show how someone with Avast antivirus installed on their computer searched…

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