AVG spies and sells private data to advertisers

spyIf you are worried about your private data ending up in the hands of advertisers it is probably better to avoid installing the free version of  AVG “security software.”

A change to its privacy policy has confirmed that AVG thinks it is a great idea to collect “non-personal data” and sell it to the highest bidder. This is a little odd given that you normally by security software to stop this sort of thing happening.

The new privacy policy comes into effect on 15 October so you might want to buy more sensible security software before then.

AVG explained that the ability to collect search history data had also been included in previous privacy policies, albeit with different wording. So if you were unfortunate enough to run AVG software you might have already sold the family silver without being aware of it.

Alexander Hanff security expert and chief executive of Think Privacy warned that AVG had now officially become spyware.

He told Wired that antivirus software runs on our devices with elevated privileges so it can detect and block malware, adware, spyware and other threats.

“It is utterly unethical to [the] highest degree and a complete and total abuse of the trust we give our security software.”

Previous versions of AVG’s privacy policy stated it could collect data on “the words you search”, but didn’t make it clear that browser history data could also be collected and sold to third parties. In a statement AVG said it had updated its privacy policy to be more transparent about how it could collect and use customer data.

AVG spokesperson told Wired that it was either spying or it would have to pack in its free security software.

“Those users who do not want us to use non-personal data in this way will be able to turn it off, without any decrease in the functionality our apps will provide. While AVG has not utilised data models to date, we may, in the future, provided that it is anonymous, non-personal data, and we are confident that our users have sufficient information and control to make an informed choice.”

It is a pity really. AVG is the third most popular antivirus product in the world and has an 8.6 percent share of the global market. Avast, which also provides free security software, admits that it collects certain non-personal information and sell it to advertisers.