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AVG privacy policy update allows it to sell your browsing history

by Mark Tyson on 18 September 2015, 11:32

Tags: AVG

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AVG is a hugely popular anti-virus (AV) solution. According to the company website it is used in protecting "over 200,000,000 active users". A lot of those users may rely on the free version of the software, which has garnered many favourable reviews over recent years. But it must be tricky to make money providing a popular AV solution, with good performance, in some ways its cannibalising your own market.

In an updated privacy policy document we get a glimpse of a new way that the AVG developers intend to monetise customers of its security software. According to Computing's interpretation, the new policy allows "the collection and sale of personal information relating to browsing history, searches, location and meta-data". Previous AVG privacy policies only went as far as saying that it collected browsing data from the AVG website/apps and data of malware found on user machines.

In the controversial new policy segment entitled 'What do you collect that cannot identify me?' AVG says that it collects "many types of data, called non-personal data that does not personally identify you." Beyond the data about you using AVG products and services, the following (non-exhaustive) examples of what might be recorded are given:

"We collect non-personal data to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free, including:

  • Advertising ID associated with your device;
  • Browsing and search history, including meta data;
  • Internet service provider or mobile network you use to connect to our products; and
  • Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used."

AVG will seek to anonymize information in your browsing history that might identify you. Unfortunately, as well as the above, AVG says it will share "certain personal data" with affiliated partners, search providers and resellers.

Jaunty privacy policy video from AVG

Privacy campaigner Alexander Hanff is quoted by Computing as saying that AVG's new policy is "wholly unacceptable," as it "runs on our devices with elevated privileges so it can detect and block malware and other threats," and appears to be abusing those privileges. AVG's new privacy policy certainly seems incompatible with forthcoming EU data-protection legislation such as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), adds Hanff.

AVG published a blog post yesterday, trying to smooth things over. The firm says it released the privacy policy a month before it comes into effect so it could gain feedback from users. It is asserted that customers will "have the ability to choose whether or not to participate in our anonymized data collection program." Apparently this option will be added to "some of" AVG's free products too. Note, AVG says some, not all free products will allow you to opt out. AVG signs off by saying that it does not "and will not, sell personally identifiable data to anyone, including advertisers".

HEXUS Forums :: 21 Comments

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What happened to AVG. I used to swear by them a few years ago.

Tut tut.
I changed over to Avast after AVGs relatively poor performance when tested in Computer Shopper, this year. Though I was tempted to change back due to Avasts annoying notifications. i.e. When I login with Santander a pop comes up saying they can “enhance my security” (or something along those lines) which obviously means they are spying on which sites I am going on!

Such a shame that these companies Get-their-foot-in-the-door with millions of users then change their practices and alienate us…:confused:
seriously…. I won't be using avg again anytime soon. That's just stupid, don't they realise that tech savvy people are getting fed up with all the tracking etc that is going on online and this ‘anti tracking’ view will spread to their non tech savvy friends when they ask for help :).

EDIT: I wonder which av Saracen uses… if it was AVG it won't be later on today lol
This just shows the 2 things that the internet has become all about:

1) Everyone expects everything to be free (probably caused by the item listed in 2)

2) The go to business model for these companies is to make the product available free first to gain millions of users and then work out ways to actually make money cause the product / service costs money to develop and run

As with most of the companies employing these tactics it doesnt effect the paid for versions so if ppl like the product but dont want adds or to have their data harvested and sold its simple.

Pay for the products you use.
Glad I moved to BitDefender last month!

Edit: Incase Kanoe asks, I paid for it and have also owned the previous AVG Premium. I am more than happy to support a company if it offers a good product. (Besides, who wants to buy browsing history of porn, porn, porn, porn, reddit, reddit porn, etc :undecided)