Data is big business and if you can capture behavioral data from millions of customers you may have a nice extra revenue stream. That's exactly what Avast is doing as Vice exposes that one of the company's subsidiaries sells confidential user data. Avast subsidiary Jumpshot boasts on Twitter that it sells "Every search. Every click. Every Buy. On every site." Thanks to Avast's popular, free anti-virus tool, Jumpshot has real-time access to a huge amount of anonymized browsing history. Jumpshot's Twitter feed reveals the firm tracks 5 billion actions a day across 100 million devices. This data is sold to clients like Google, Yelp, Microsoft, McKinsey, Pepsi, Sephora, Home Depot, Condé Nast, and Intuit.
Vice notes this an "opt-in" feature of Avast, but remarks that questions can be raised about how informed that consent is.
The data obtained by Motherboard and PCMag includes Google searches, lookups of locations and GPS coordinates on Google Maps, people visiting companies' LinkedIn pages, particular YouTube videos, and people visiting porn websites. It is possible to determine from the collected data what date and time the anonymized user visited YouPorn and PornHub, and in some cases what search term they entered into the porn site and which specific video they watched.