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Avast ordered to stop selling browsing data from its browsing privacy apps

Avast logo on a phone in front of the words

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Avast, a name known for its security research and antivirus apps, has long offered Chrome extensions, mobile apps, and other tools aimed at increasing privacy.

Avast’s apps would “block annoying tracking cookies that collect data on your browsing activities,” and prevent web services from “tracking your online activity.” Deep in its privacy policy, Avast said information that it collected would be “anonymous and aggregate.” In its fiercest rhetoric, Avast’s desktop software claimed it would stop “hackers making money off your searches.”

All of that language was offered up while Avast was collecting users’ browser information from 2014 to 2020, then selling it to more than 100 other companies through a since-shuttered entity known as Jumpshot, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Under a proposed recent FTC order (PDF), Avast must pay $16.5 million, which is “expected to be used to provide redress to consumers,” according to the FTC. Avast will also be prohibited from selling future browsing data, must obtain express consent on future data gathering, notify customers about prior data sales, and implement a “comprehensive privacy program” to address prior conduct.

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