Update of computer security company AVG’s privacy policy reveals allowance to sell users’ internet browsing history data

James Temperton at Wired UK: Security firm AVG can sell search and browser history data to advertisers in order to “make money” from its free antivirus software, a change to its privacy policy has confirmed.

The updated policy explained that AVG was allowed to collect “non-personal data”, which could then be sold to third parties. The new privacy policy comes into effect on 15 October, but AVG explained that the ability to collect search history data had also been included in previous privacy policies, albeit with different wording.

Updated AVG privacy policy.

AVG’s potential ability to collect and sell browser and search history data placed the company “squarely into the category of spyware”, according to Alexander Hanff security expert and chief executive of Think Privacy.

In a statement AVG said it had updated its privacy policy to be more transparent about how it could collect and use customer data.

An AVG spokesperson told WIRED that in order to continue offering free security software the company may in the future “employ a variety of means, including subscription, ads and data models.”

“Those users who do not want us to use non-personal data in this way will be able to turn it off, without any decrease in the functionality our apps will provide,” the spokesperson added. “While AVG has not utilised data models to date, we may, in the future, provided that it is anonymous, non-personal data, and we are confident that our users have sufficient information and control to make an informed choice.”

AVG is the third most popular antivirus product in the world according to market analysis from software firm Opswat.

Orla Lynskey, a data protection and IT law expert from London School of Economics, welcomed the change in language but said users would be justifiably concerned by the implications. “Its privacy policy is written in clear and simple language,” she told WIRED, adding that users might expect an antivirus provider to be “more respectful” of their privacy and data security.

“It appears that AVG is adopting a generous interpretation of the data protection rules in order to justify its data use policy,” Lynskey argued. “Although some of the data they classify as ‘non-personal’ might not identify individuals directly, they may be indirectly identifiable based on that data.”

Full Article: Wired UK – AVG can sell your browsing and search history to advertisers

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