Has the antivirus solution provider violated data protection rules?

Since last month, the American antivirus solutions company has been accused of infringing on its users' personal data through its browser extensions.

For its part, the cybersecurity company strongly denied having carried out illegal collection.

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The charges generally relate to collections that would have been initiated since the Online Security and SafePrice extensions. It was observed that Opera Mini and Mozilla browsers decided to remove these extensions from their various browsers because they believed that they were illegally collecting user data. The discovery of these massive collections that came from the extensions of the cybersecurity company was following an alert triggered by Wladimir Palant, one of the technicians behind the ad blocker called Adblock Plus.

According to the latter, Avast extensions collected so much data that it was possible to reconstruct users' browsing hiss. And it is then that by taking a closer look at the privacy policy of the computer security solutions company, we realize that it has been allowing this kind of collection for quite some time, claiming a certain "legitimate interest". However, there is one key point that has fuelled these accusations against Avast. "Whether it's selling complementary products, developing its services, securing its offering or advertising targeted. Avast is not so much incriminated for these reasons as for the partnership in place with its subsidiary Jumpshot." Explained Clément Bohic, IT Journalist in Silicon.

Indeed, the company was acquired in 2013 by Avast, which today owns 65% of the shares. The company is known as an expert in trend analysis tool supplies, which it says will be based on data that can be held by about "100 million online shoppers." She also explains that it's tools that can be "analyze what user[…]s have been looking for, how they have interacted with a brand or product, what they've bough[…]t."

In view of this, and the fact that Avast's privacy policy only mentioned the partnership with Avast in the second half of 2019, is an error in the ethical approach to the use of user data. Worse still, the version of the tool used in France, for example, has no mention of the relationship between Avast and Jumpshot. Moreover, said privacy policy says this for PriceSafe. "Information about certain shops or products, URLs, installation GUIDE, offer time stamping, purchase, product name and number, merchant name, product links, prices and categories of purchased items, country-level location will be collected or transferred to us."

While Avast claims to defend itself that it is less sensitive than what the usual platforms of the net collect, the fact remains that the data business to which the cybersecurity firm has infiltrated earns it 5% of its annual turnover. This raises this question for those who are skeptical of the protection of personal data.

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