Free Isn’t Free: AVG Updates its Privacy Policy, Plans to Sell User Data

AVG Sells Free User Data

By now you’ve probably heard about AVG’s updated privacy policy. It’s being widely reported that AVG, an antivirus software company, has updated its policy to explicitly inform its free users that it can – and will – sell their information. This information will be sold to advertisers and third parties to “make money,” and enable them to continue offering a free version of their software. The policy also states that AVG can collect data on their users’ search history. Although AVG asserts this data is “non-personal,” it has been proven that this type of data can be turned into identifying information.

While we applaud AVG’s transparency, this is still a disappointing – although unsurprising – practice coming form a company in the security space. Many people trust companies like AVG (who is also the third-largest antivirus software company in the world) to keep them safe online, and this privacy policy seems to be a violation of that trust. AVG says that users can turn off their data collection feature if they like, but the practice is still concerning. AVG’s updated privacy policy states:

“We collect non-personal data to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free, including:
Advertising ID associated with your device
Browsing and search history, including meta data
Internet service provider or mobile network you use to connect to our products
Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used.”

The new policy will go into effect on October 15. AVG is currently fielding questions on a Reddit thread.

This news is yet another example of the cost of using a free provider, and an illustration of the adage “if it’s free, you are the product.”  We recently outlined similar examples of free providers selling user data in our “I am Anonymous when I use a VPN: 10 Myths Debunked” article. At Golden Frog, we do not sell user data nor use third parties, and strive to maintain the highest level of trust among our customers.

Resources

Read more about this news on Wired, Engadget or Slate.

Protect your privacy and security online – Try VyprVPN Free.

Read Golden Frog’s article “I am Anonymous when I use a VPN: 10 Myths Debunked.”

Information in this post comes from the news sources linked throughout.