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.
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.
“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.”