Avast is halting data collection and winding down operations at its subsidiary Jumpshot, following the joint investigation by Motherboard and PCMag, which raised privacy concerns about the data collection and selling practices of the company.
Jumpshot was launched in 2015 with a focus on providing insights to its clients such as trend analytics and statistics based on the anonymised user data collected by Avast anti-virus. However, the investigation found out that this user data, which was being sold to the third parties, could be used to identify people and their web history too, including the clicks and searches.
In a letter to the company’s stakeholders on Wednesday, Avast CEO Ondrej Vlcek said, “We started Jumpshot in 2015 with the idea of extending our data analytics capabilities beyond core security. This was during a period where it was becoming increasingly apparent that cybersecurity was going to be a big data game. We thought we could leverage our tools and resources to do this more securely than the countless other companies that were collecting data.”
Reportedly, Jumpshot has data of more than 100 million users, which are a quarter of the 400 million-plus Avast users who opted-in; however the investigation says that multiple users said that they didn’t know Avast was selling the data — raising privacy concerns as well as questions about the consent policy. The CEO also says that both Avast and Jumpshot are GDPR compliant and yet failed to safeguard user data, which has now ultimately led to a halt in operations.
“While the decision we have made will regrettably impact hundreds of loyal Jumpshot employees and dozens of its customers, it is absolutely the right thing to do. 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.
The company announced that they would continue paying their vendors and suppliers until the wind-down process completed and will also be notifying its customers about the termination of its data services.