Avast 'Winds Down' Jumpshot Subsidiary After User Data-Selling Controversy

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That didn't take long. Just a few days after Motherboard and PCMag revealed more details about how Avast sells user data via its subsidiary, Jumpshot, Avast announced that it's decided to "wind down" the subsidiary "with immediate effect."

We noted earlier this week that Avast is most well-known for its free-to-use antivirus solution. The reports from Motherboard and PCMag revealed just how much information the company gathered about users who opted into sharing their data.

Avast CEO Ondrej Vlcek said in today's announcement that his company will "terminate the Jumpshot data collection" in addition to shuttering the subsidiary. To hear him tell it, this was the plan all along: 

"When I took on the role as CEO of Avast seven months ago, I spent a lot of time re-evaluating every portion of our business. During this process, I came to the conclusion that the data collection business is not in line with our privacy priorities as a company in 2020 and beyond," Vlcek said. "It is key to me that Avast’s sole purpose is to make the world a safer place, and I knew that ultimately, everything in the company would have to become aligned with our North Star."

Despite the controversy from the recent reports, Avast disclosed the fact that it sells user data via Jumpshot back in 2015, and its antivirus users have to opt in to sharing their information with the subsidiary during install.

Motherboard said the data sold by Jumpshot included "Google searches, lookups of locations and GPS coordinates on Google Maps, people visiting companies' LinkedIn pages, particular YouTube videos and people visiting porn websites."

That information was said to be de-personalized, but experts feared that companies might be able to de-anonymize (re-personalize?) the information by comparing it to their own data sets, which could undermine the privacy of Avast's users as a result.

Now, they apparently won't have to worry about that. 

Vlcek said the decision will "regrettably impact hundreds of loyal Jumpshot employees and dozens of its customers." It's not clear if Jumpshot's employees will be reassigned within Avast or if they'll be laid off as a result of the controversy.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.