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Avast hopes you’ll forgive it for selling your data

Antivirus protection provider Avast has apologised for selling users’ data via Jumpshot, a subsidiary company. The company says it is closing down Jumpshot “with immediate effect”. 

Earlier this week Vice and PCMag revealed their joint investigation, which found that Avast had been harvesting data and selling it through the subsidiary company.

Related: Avast Premium Security review

Avast CEO Ondrej Vlcek posted an apologetic statement on the company’s blog. Take a look at the core of the statement below, or follow this link for the full version.

“As CEO of Avast, I feel personally responsible and I would like to apologise to all concerned. Protecting people is Avast’s top priority and must be embedded in everything we do in our business and in our products. Anything to the contrary is unacceptable. For these reasons, I – together with our board of directors – have decided to terminate the Jumpshot data collection and wind down Jumpshot’s operations, with immediate effect.

“When I took on the role as CEO of Avast seven months ago, I spent a lot of time re-evaluating every portion of our business. During this process, I came to the conclusion that the data collection business is not in line with our privacy priorities as a company in 2020 and beyond. It is key to me that Avast’s sole purpose is to make the world a safer place.

“This change represents a new chapter in Avast’s history of keeping people around the world safe and secure. We’re excited to demonstrate our commitment to innovation and security priorities – with a singular focus in 2020 and beyond. Thank you for your continued support and the trust you are putting into us. We will not disappoint.”

Unfortunately, the statement also explains that hundreds of jobs at Jumpshot will be affected by the closure.

There has been a mixed response to the statement on social media. Some critics are arguing that shutting Jumpshot down will be a shot in the arm of anti-competitive forces at big tech companies.

The CEO of software company SparkToro, Rand Fishkin, has argued that the “shutdown of Jumpshot will harm the web and the world”.

“Jumpshot was one of the best and only sources for collecting high quality, aggregated, fully anonymised data about how people use the web,” he said. “Its loss will be felt keenly across numerous industries, including the web marketing world. But, in my opinion, the greatest loss is for those who seek to hold powerful tech companies to account for their lies and anti-competitive behaviour.”

Fishkin added: “I’m also a huge supporter of anyone who can credibly verify or disprove false claims by the tech giants, as Jumpshot’s data did in congressional testimony last year.”

Related: Best antivirus 2020

While there are obvious transgressions in what Jumpshot has done, those transgressions pale into insignificance when compared to similar ones from larger tech companies like Facebook. However, the fact that it is a subsidiary of Avast, a security-focused brand, will leave a bad taste in the mouths of many users.

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