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Avast fined $16.5 million for ‘privacy’ software that actually sold users’ browsing data

Art rendering of transparent laptop in front of a wall of surveilling eyes.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Avast, the cybersecurity software company, is facing a $16.5 million fine after it was caught storing and selling customer information without their consent. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the fine on Thursday and said that it’s banning Avast from selling user data for advertising purposes.

From at least 2014 to 2020, Avast harvested user web browsing information through its antivirus software and browser extension, according to the FTC’s complaint. This allowed it to collect data on religious beliefs, health concerns, political views, locations, and financial status. The company then stored this information “indefinitely” and sold it to over 100 third parties without the knowledge of customers, the complaint says.

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