The antivirus product of the year is really
a surveillance tool…
All I can say is… wouldn’t you know it.
Avast was named AV-Comparatives’ 2018 Product of the Year. It offers premium security for mobile devices, laptops, and home computers. And it can be downloaded for free. What’s not to like?
Consumers certainly love the idea of free antivirus protection. Avast now has more than 435 million active users a month. That’s a huge customer base.
But it turns out there is a catch…
Avast has a subsidiary called Jumpshot. And Jumpshot has been harvesting the data of every Avast user from the moment they installed the software.
Every search. Every click. Every buy. On every site. Jumpshot recorded it all, packaged it up, and sold it.
And guess who the buyers have been? Google, Microsoft, McKinsey, Pepsi, Home Depot, and others.
These are large, blue-chip companies. And reportedly some of them have been paying millions of dollars to get their hands on the data Jumpshot has taken. Some of this data is very sensitive and personal.
This is perhaps even more invasive than what Google and Facebook are doing. It’s scary.
And we were never supposed to know about it. Jumpshot required its customers to sign very strict confidentiality agreements. Thankfully, Motherboard and PC Magazine launched a joint investigation and discovered what was really going on.
So the big takeaway here is simple. Nothing is ever free. If a product or service is marketed as free, that means we are the product.
Somewhere, buried within an agreement, consumers unwittingly “consent” to allow these free products and services to spy on them and do whatever they want with the information obtained.
While some companies may call that consent, I call it deception and a violation of our privacy. And I highly recommend readers stay away from Avast… and stay skeptical of any other product that is supposedly “free.”