FTC Bans Avast from Selling User Browsing Data, Orders $16.5 Million Payment

Federal Trade Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has finalized an order that bans software provider Avast from selling, disclosing, or licensing web browsing data for advertising purposes. This decision settles charges that Avast and its subsidiaries sold user data after promising to protect consumers from online tracking. As part of the settlement, Avast must also pay $16.5 million, which will be used to compensate affected consumers.

The complaint, first announced in February, accused Avast of collecting users’ browsing information through its browser extensions and antivirus software. According to the FTC, Avast stored this data indefinitely and sold it without adequate notice and consumer consent. Despite claiming their software would protect users’ privacy by blocking third-party tracking, Avast failed to inform consumers that it was selling detailed, re-identifiable browsing data. This data was allegedly sold to more than 100 third parties through Avast’s subsidiary, Jumpshot.

The final order imposes several stringent requirements on Avast and its subsidiaries:

  • Data Deletion: Avast must delete all web browsing data transferred to Jumpshot and any products or algorithms derived from that data.
  • Consent Requirement: The company must obtain affirmative express consent from consumers before selling or licensing browsing data from non-Avast products to third parties for advertising purposes.
  • Consumer Notification: Avast must notify consumers whose browsing information was sold without their consent about the FTC’s actions against the company.
  • Privacy Program Implementation: Avast is required to implement a comprehensive privacy program to address the misconduct highlighted by the FTC.

The FTC’s decision to impose these conditions underscores the importance of consumer privacy in the digital age. Data privacy advocates have long warned about the potential misuse of personal data collected by software providers. This case exemplifies how companies can exploit user trust for financial gain, putting consumer privacy at risk.

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FTC’s Avast Settlement: Upholding Data Privacy in the Digital Age

In an era where personal data is a valuable commodity, the FTC’s actions send a strong message to other software providers. Companies must be transparent about their data collection practices and obtain clear consent from users before selling their information. This settlement aims to restore consumer trust and set a precedent for data privacy standards.

The implications of this ruling are significant. For consumers, it means greater protection and awareness of how their data is used. For businesses, it serves as a warning that deceptive practices will not be tolerated and may result in substantial penalties.

The Commission voted 3-0-2 to approve the settlement, with Commissioners Melissa Holyoak and Andrew N. Ferguson not participating. This unanimous decision reinforces the FTC’s commitment to safeguarding consumer privacy and promoting fair business practices.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, regulatory bodies like the FTC play a crucial role in ensuring that companies adhere to ethical standards. This settlement with Avast is a reminder that consumer protection remains a top priority in an increasingly interconnected world.

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