Notebookcheck

The price of free software: Avast has been selling the browser history of its users

Avast-related search suggestions in Bing search (Source: Own)
Avast-related search suggestions in Bing search (Source: Own)
Although there are still freeware products that are completely free, others come with hidden traps that the user only gets to find out about via scandals. The free Avast antivirus is such a product — it turns out that the Czech firm behind it has been selling the browser history of its users to the highest bidder.
Codrut Nistor,

Although I use a few paid products that also have good free alternatives, I have always been a big fan of free software. Unfortunately, I've seen too many free products fading away so it no longer surprises me when I find out that various software makers resort to rather questionable methods of making money from their free products. Today, the time has come to find out that Avast's free antivirus can have a price that many users are not willing to pay: the privacy of their browsing history.

According to PCMag, the "de-identified" data that Avast has been collecting can, in fact, be linked to the people's real identities, especially when it is being sold to certain third parties. For example, when Avast is selling to Amazon the data concerning a click performed by someone who purchased a certain product at a given hour on a certain date, Amazon can identify that user. Obviously, it works for many other sites — adult ones included, most likely.

The two source articles linked below this one are quite interesting and rather long (I recommend you to check out at least the one by VICE, nevertheless), so if you want a quick conclusion, there can be only one: try to stay away from Avast's pieces of code. I will not recommend any alternative products to make it clear that this is not a paid article and — although many have not been discovered yet — Avast is for sure not the only company that is currently doing this without the knowledge of its users.

If you have anything to say about Avast or other companies who have been caught red-handed, feel free to drop your comments below.

Source(s)

Read all 11 comments / answer
static version load dynamic
Loading Comments
Comment on this article
Please share our article, every link counts!
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 01 > The price of free software: Avast has been selling the browser history of its users
Codrut Nistor, 2020-01-28 (Update: 2020-01-28)
Codrut Nistor
Codrut Nistor - News Editor
Although I have been writing about new software and hardware for almost a decade, I consider myself to be old school. I always enjoy listening to music on CD or tape instead of digital files and I will not even get into the touchscreen vs physical keys debate. However, I also enjoy new technology, as I now have the chance to take a look at the future every day. I joined the Notebookcheck crew back in 2013 and I have no plans to leave the ship anytime soon.