AVG Collecting & Selling Data from its Users – Mountain or Molehill?


Security firm AVG recently published its updated privacy policy and the backlash from users has been fast and furious. The new policy, which takes effect from October 15, makes it clear that AVG will collect non-personal data including:

  • Advertising ID associated with your device;
  • Browsing and search history, including meta data;
  • Internet service provider or mobile network you use to connect to our products; and
  • Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used

AVG says it collects this data “to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free.”

avg-logo2.jpg

The company followed up with a press release proudly stating that the new privacy policy has been presented in plain language to make it abundantly clear to users just what data the company is collecting and what it does with that data. CEO Gary Kovacs even urged the rest of the tech industry to follow suit and adopt similarly transparent policies.

I’ve little doubt the practice of collecting data for sale is not uncommon, however, it is rare to see a privacy policy that so simply and plainly discloses a company’s methods and motivations. The reaction to AVG’s new policy clearly illustrates why companies generally tend to obfuscate their data collection practices in long-winded and complex privacy statements overloaded with legalese. There’s no onus on them not to do so, and transparency often merely invites uproar.

So, mountain or molehill?

mountain-molehill

I guess it depends on one’s own perspective. On the one hand, should we be applauding AVG for its honesty and transparency? As I said earlier, I’ll almost wager that this practice is not uncommon among security software vendors, they just haven’t disclosed their activities in similar plain language as AVG has.

AVG has also intimated that users will be afforded the opportunity to opt out of some data collection:


You have the right to opt out of the use or collection of certain data, including personal data and non-personal data, by following the instructions here*.

Although, because the new policy is not yet in force, details of the what and how are yet to be disclosed.

On the other hand, while the practice of collecting data for sale appears to be fast becoming the norm among major software distributors, it is somewhat unsettling to learn in no uncertain terms that an antivirus program is tracking and monetizing its users’ browsing history, ostensibly to help fund free editions. Seems we, the users, are fast becoming the commodity.

What do you think?

 

About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele… as well as writing for DCT, of course.

There are 6 comments

Comments are closed.