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Advertising Privacy

AVG Proudly Announces It Will Sell Your Browsing History To Online Advertisers 229

An anonymous reader writes: AVG, the Czech antivirus company, has announced a new privacy policy in which it boldly and openly admits it will collect user details and sell them to online advertisers for the purpose of continuing to fund its freemium-based products. This new privacy policy is slated to come into effect starting October 15. The policy says: 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, and Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used.
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AVG Proudly Announces It Will Sell Your Browsing History To Online Advertisers

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  • Epic Fail? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ToxicBanjo ( 905105 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @09:27AM (#50555279)
    Haven't used any of their products but it sounds to me that in this age of data breaches and privacy dwindling that people are not going to take kindly to this move. I think they'll see a huge drop-off in the use of their services.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Did Target and Home Depot lose lots of customers? Yeah, didn't think so.

      • Re:Epic Fail? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ToxicBanjo ( 905105 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @09:34AM (#50555311)

        Did Target and Home Depot lose lots of customers? Yeah, didn't think so.

        Completely different situation. AVG is saying they will include your browser history and searches, so on. For your analogy to be comparable it would have to be Target and Home Depot following people around who leave the store to see where else they shop, what they buy, and what they look for in catalogues/flyers. And then sell that to 3rd parties.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          So you think a massive data breach of credit and debit card information wouldn't cause people to stop shopping with a company but their browser history is going to be the tipping point? lolwut?

          • by garbut ( 1990152 )
            A breach is very different from a policy.
        • For your analogy to be comparable it would have to be Target and Home Depot following people around who leave the store to see where else they shop, what they buy, and what they look for in catalogues/flyers. And then sell that to 3rd parties.

          Or just getting their customers to sign up for "a loyalty card", which supermarkets seem to be very successful at.

          • Ah! but that's opt-in.
          • For your analogy to be comparable it would have to be Target and Home Depot following people around who leave the store to see where else they shop, what they buy, and what they look for in catalogues/flyers. And then sell that to 3rd parties.

            Or just getting their customers to sign up for "a loyalty card", which supermarkets seem to be very successful at.

            Almost none of those are much use outside of the store--and given that nearly every single one in my area does tailored coupons, if they were that good at stalking customers I'd not be getting coupons for peanut butter and pork. That, or they want me dead.

      • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @10:58AM (#50555747) Journal

        If the perpetrators announced that they planned to hack Target and sell your credit card information, would you have shopped there, knowing what would happen? I wouldn't. Maybe you are that stupid, but I don't think most people are.

        Ceasing to shop at Target AFTER the hack had already occurred would be closing the barn door after the horses has bolted. You'd only be hoping to indirectly influence management of other companies to hopefully increase the budget for security, which might reduce the risks of some breach somewhere. Switching from Target to Walmart after the news only increases your own risk, because Target's systems were swarmed with security experts from the FBI and private security companies - they got READ security conscious real quick.

        Here AVG is announcing ahead of time, "if you use our product we WILL release your information." You can choose now to not have your information released by not using their product.

      • Re:Epic Fail? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mjm1231 ( 751545 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @12:12PM (#50556063)

        People will forgive your mistakes. What you do intentionally is another matter.

      • I missed the part where Home Depot and Target announced that they will knowingly and intentionally selling your credit card numbers to hackers. If they had such notice posted by the cash register, would people still swipe?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm willing to bet a big chunk of AVGs users consists of parents/family of people who installed it for them way back when they were one of the go-to solutions and those people don't know or care that they even have options.

      • Luckily AVG's decline started long ago and many of those people switched their parents/families to avast!

        • Who will probably be next to pull this stunt. It already bothers me when it gives me pop-up "warnings" about some of the sites I visit. Like keeping anonymous and crap.
          • Easy enough to get around that with avast, just enable silent mode. I've been running with that on constantly for years.

            • It stops the pop-ups, but the fact that the AV is paying that close attention to the sites that I visit... I have no idea if it's selling any of this information.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2015 @09:46AM (#50555371)

      This reminds me of what has happened with JetBrains, a Czech company who makes popular programming tools.

      They recently announced [jetbrains.com] some significant licensing changes that involved a subscription model. As any sane person would expect, the customers absolutely hated this decision. The uproar was significant, with an extreme level of dissent. Paying customers, many of them who had been customers for years and years, explained that they will move away from JetBrains' products immediately.

      Given the extreme degree of public outrage regarding these completely unwanted licensing changes, JetBrains said they'd listen to the customer feedback [jetbrains.com].

      In the end, JetBrains backpeddled [jetbrains.com] somewhat and adjusted the licensing options. However, many customers are still unhappy, and severe damage has already been done. Lots of long time JetBrains customers are now suffering from the dreaded FUD: fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Because of this, many are still considering moving to alternate tools.

      All it takes is one single change like this, doing something that the customers do not want, and everything goes to hell. Previously loved companies can become distrusted outcasts.

      Mozilla could be considered an extreme case of this. Once considered among the most respected and beloved organizations, years of unwanted changes to Firefox have driven away many of Firefox's users (Firefox's market share across all platforms is likely in the single digits now [caniuse.com]). Users just don't like being treated poorly, especially if there are alternatives! Firefox's users got fed up with the constant and awful UI changes, so they moved to Chrome. Now Mozilla is facing irrelevancy, as they end up with fewer and fewer people using their software. It's a real shame, but that's what happens when you shit all over your users and customers!

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Full agree on Firefox. I mean, how stupid can you be? This must be at the very top of the stupidity ever displayed by a popular FOSS project. Well, there is Gnome, of course.

      • In the end, JetBrains backpeddled

        You mean they issued an RMA?

    • Re:Epic Fail? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @09:47AM (#50555375)

      Doubtful. Most of their customers aren't likely even going to be aware of the change in the first place.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Problem will be the computer guys, who will make sure to tell all their customers that data is being sold.

      • This is especially true, considering their savvy customers switched to other AV programs over a decade ago (for me, it was when I caught Blaster [wikipedia.org] on an Winblows system running fully-updated AVG)...
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why would they? They are perfectly open and honest about it, which is more than you can say about f.ex. their American counter-parts.

    • You're right; my first reaction to reading this was "Hmm, I don't use AVG right now, but I'm sure as hell not going to use it in the future, or recommend it to anyone for any reason". What they're doing is, in my opinion, not appropriate for an antivirus/antimalware producer to be doing, since they're operating like malware. What they should be doing, is to start charging for their software, if they're short of money. Let the market decide whether or not their product is good enough to pay for. If it's not
    • Which is ironic considering they'll continue on using all the services that hide or lie about the fact that they do this very thing.

      NOTHING is free. The laws of physics simply don't work that way, and they do apply to people and behavior as well. People will move on to another product ... which is selling their information due to a clause that sounds completely benign in paragraph 12 of page 43 of the EULA.

      *sigh*

      People will cut off their nose to spite their face at the drop of a hat.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        There are various version of free. In this case you would think by now, government would be producing digital policemen and providing them free because the cost of that is less the the cost of the losses to the community. So a decision to provide free security software from government sources, saves the community money and saves them much more than the cost of producing that software so that net gain is completely free (fuck lost corporate profits).

    • I quit giving it to customers a couple years ago when it became REALLY bloated. If you need a free AV I'd recommend Comodo or Avast Home, Comodo for those that want more control and more features (as it comes with vm desktop mode for secure browsing,an option to use their DNS for phishing site blocking, and the option to always run your browser in a VM) and Avast for those that just want an AV without the extras. Both are really good at stopping malware cold (in fact Comodo was one of the only free AVs that

  • Best alternative? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sproketboy ( 608031 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @09:30AM (#50555295)

    What's the best alternative right now for windows?

    • How about not even using one. Most of them suck anyway, they don't catch the clever malware and they hog resources and slow down your PC. Just be smart on the web, rely on the Windows built-in tools and you don't need one I find.
      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @09:56AM (#50555433)

        I dare say that's like saying "I don't need no safety belt, I know how to drive a car".

        Yes. Problem is, you're not the only one driving. Neither are you the only one making connections in your machine. And I'm not even talking about some kids you may or may not have which seem to be a magnet for all kinds of malware.

        There are far too many programs on your computer that open up connections that can be (and are) abused as attack vectors. You open a PDF (a benign one, not one sent by "lawyer" telling you about that unpaid ebay bill) and your PDF-reader starts making connections. You open up a game selling platform and it opens up a browser that connects to its maker or the maker of the game you plan to buy (or just look at). And we're not even touching browsers, online ads and them being one of the key contemporary attack vectors.

        And no, Windows tools don't cut it. Why? Because EVERY malware HAS to circumvent them Because they are installed on EVERY Windows machine. No way around it. Malware has to be tested against them (and yes, it is) and has to be undetectable by everything every user has by default installed. Because, well, why bother launching a virus that is detected BY DEFAULT?

        And no, malware doesn't need admin privileges anymore to cause damage. Just ask anyone who has been subjected to cryptolocker and its various variants. The current batch of banking trojans also doesn't need any elevated privileges to cause troubles. All it takes is a certificate and some creative rerouting of your traffic...

        • You seem to think that the extremely rare malware to make it through on such a vector would then be stopped by AV. Unlikely. If you're well versed in security practices and diligent in following them, especially blocking ads and properly configuring your firewall, AVs are of no benefit and just waste resources.
      • Ah! I see. Use the built in browser to download and install linux, and then be malware free. Clever.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Eset Nod32.

      You have to pay for it, but it's worth it.

      • I didn't like Eset. We had it on our corporate systems and it was a resource hog. We had to take our laptops home so that we could work 24 hours a day for the company for no extra pay, and I left it on all night at home, but it would not run the full scan overnight. Instead, it would run it as soon as you got back in to work, and would churn on the hard drive for about an hour.I'm sure this was partly the corporate setup.
        I'm neither with that company, nor Eset anymore.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft Security Essentials. Back it up with Spybot Seach and Destroy or Malwarebytes MBAM or both.

      Try not to download stuff from shady sites. If you're really concerned with something run it through Jotti or Virustotal or VirSCAN.org.

    • Re:Best alternative? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by andymadigan ( 792996 ) <`amadigan' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday September 19, 2015 @07:29PM (#50558299)
      Windows Defender. No, seriously. I haven't seen any issues over 2 years, even with multiple non-technical users. It works, stays out of the way, doesn't slow the machine down, doesn't demand money or personal information.
    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
      Bitdefender free
  • by satch89450 ( 186046 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @09:41AM (#50555347) Homepage
    sudo vi /etc/hosts
    i
    127.0.0.1 avg.com
    :wq

    Problem solved. Can't sell what you don't have.

  • by onepoint ( 301486 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @09:47AM (#50555373) Homepage Journal

    At least they made the disclosure, which is a step in the correct direction for a consumer to make a choice.
    while I might not like it, it's correct.

    • Exactly.

      You know what they are going to do, there is no confusion, you can simply choose not to use their product or pay in a different way for a version that doesn't sell your info.

      You can make an informed choice, which makes it fair, and imo, acceptable to do so.

      • by Desler ( 1608317 )

        Except their policy states:

        Unless the specific product states otherwise, all AVG products and services are included under this Privacy Policy.

        So there's no reason to believe that their pay products aren't doing the same thing. The only choice is to stop using all their products.

    • by janoc ( 699997 )

      They have been at this for a while. AVG was autoinstalling extensions into all Windows browsers that automatically redirect your browsing through an AVG proxy (supposedly to keep you safe from viruses, ehm) for a long time. So this was only a matter of time.

      BTW, AVG is not really a Czech company anymore. They have moved to the US and in the Czech republic is only their R&D centre now (Czech programmers cost 1/10th of what an US one would).

    • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @11:40AM (#50555917)

      At least they made the disclosure,

      Did they actually make the disclosure, or was it buried somewhere in a 50-page legalese boilerplate document that exists precisely to hide anything important?

      Because there's lying, lying by omission, and lying by drowning someone in so much irrelevant detail important things go unnoticed. All are forms of intentional deception, and none should be excused.

      • They sent me a heads up email with a link to the new policy. So they're being up front about it. That said, I don't care for it. I've used their free version for probably close to 10 years, but I'll be looking for a replacement soon. Avast? Microsoft Essentials? Dunno. In all that time, I think AVG gave me one false positive and once it failed to warn me of something that I could immediately see was suspicious. Not a single true positive, IIRC. My sense is that the threats these days are much more
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @09:48AM (#50555379)

    At least you get something in return, you get an antivirus product free of charge.

    With some competitors, you pay for the privilege to have your privacy sold off.

    • by Intron ( 870560 )

      My definition of "free of charge" does not include frequent pop-ups telling me to pay for an upgrade to be really protected. I tried Avast and AVG and ended up getting a non-intrusive alternative.

  • AVG is dreadful (Score:4, Informative)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @09:49AM (#50555389)

    In my experience AVG is dreadful and only somewhat effective.

    I used it for years when it was good, and then it started to want to do updates that never "took"...so it would try to do the update again, and again, and again. Sometimes it would start but not run or it would error out. Then it started displaying nag screens with ads for the "Pro" version.

    I dumped it and moved to Comodo which seems less needy and doesn't pester me with ads.

  • by Deathlizard ( 115856 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @09:50AM (#50555397) Homepage Journal

    So. More ask Toolbar disguised as AVG Secure search...

  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @09:51AM (#50555401) Homepage Journal
    This is similar to a company selling both radar detectors to the public and radar systems to the police.
    I stopped using AVG in favor of Avast probably 5 or 6 years ago, maybe longer now, I can't remember. The thing with AV is that you have to keep changing companies every 4 or 5 years because the awesome one goes from being free and relatively resource unintensive to being not free, a resource hog, and sometimes, as in the case of AVG, even sells your information to the people who are the source of most of the viruses.
  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @09:57AM (#50555439) Homepage Journal

    It's interesting watching so many software products (and OSes, etc) go through the same cycle. A new player comes on the scene and innovates or simply does things better than the competitors, they become popular and get a decent install base, they stagnate and / or bloat, their usefulness and effectiveness drops, and then often times they turn Evil as a last ditch effort is made to monetize what is left of their users.

    I really liked AVG at one time. For me it was the free go-to antivirus product, and it really did a better job removing the malware of the day when it was at its peak (oh, around 8-10 years ago).

  • It will not long so long, because the AVG software will flag it and it will delete itself.

  • Alternatives to AVG (Score:5, Informative)

    by BringMyShuttle ( 4121293 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @10:03AM (#50555485)
    A timely PC MAG review rating many free anti-virus programs: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/... [pcmag.com]

    Don't let the door hit your bum on the way out, AVG
  • I never installed the browser add-on component.

    But I guess now I'll move to Comodo anyway, and hope that's better for a while

    • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

      I think I'll get back to work on my read-only browser sandbox. It seems to be the only way to be sure these days.

  • by astro ( 20275 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @10:05AM (#50555497) Homepage

    It's sad. There was a time, not SO many years ago, where I strongly recommended AVG to people as the lightest, least intrusive Antivirus solution for Windows. The decline makes me frown.

  • kudos (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shentino ( 1139071 ) <shentino@gmail.com> on Saturday September 19, 2015 @10:22AM (#50555571)

    Kudos to AVG for being honest enough to admit it in advance and gives its potentially paranoid customers a chance to opt out.

    I wish more companies did this. It's a little slimy, but it's a lot LESS slimy when they don't try to hide it.

    No, I'm not being sarcastic.

  • I switched to Avast a long time ago.
  • HTTPS scanning (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Artem Tashkinov ( 764309 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @10:31AM (#50555625)

    ./ has neglected an even bigger elephant in the room: most modern AV products insert their own HTTPS certificate into the OS you're running for your "safety" and "protection".

    In short they scan the traffic which wasn't meant to be scanned by third parties, thus AV vendors circumvent the vary basis of encryption.

    Welcome to a brave new world. Then your PC hasn't really belonged to you since 2008 or something but no one cares anyway: http://libreboot.org/faq/#inte... [libreboot.org]

    I wonder if there's anything left to buy nowadays which is yours truly and which doesn't spy on you or have a dozen of backdoors for NSA/CIA/M5/etc.

    • Yes, there is.. and you don't have to "buy" it... Its called Linux.. Of course, having said that, I wonder how long it will be before the "government" decides that anybody who is not doing their internet business with an "approved" operating system, namely Windows or Mac, will be marked as a "terrorist".. I hope I'm dead and buried by then, but the way the world is going, I wonder (I'm 65 y/o now)....

    • by jonwil ( 467024 )

      I run the free version of AVG (without any of the browser add-on crap installed) and I dont see any indications that its MITM'ing SSL traffic inside SeaMonkey (my primary browser).

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Sorry but that's not true - and Google and other websites, not to mention end-users, are capable of detecting these kinds of things.

      To intercept traffic, you need to have accepted a trusted root certificate at some point. Doing so can MITM traffic but all your local SSL connections will be signed by that cert. That rings alarm bells in modern browsers, not to mention it's as simple as double-clicking the green bar to find it.

      No modern AV that I've used has done this. However, I *have* manually pushed su

      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        P.S. Try https://www.grc.com/fingerprin... [grc.com]

        If your fingerprints on that page differ from the fingerprints on your browser's cert for those sites, you're being MITM'd.

        e.g.
        www.grc.com
        01:56:D3:AC:CF:5A:3F:B8:8F:0F:B4:30:88:2D:F6:72:4E:8C:F2:E0

  • by threc ( 105464 ) on Saturday September 19, 2015 @11:05AM (#50555781) Homepage

    Well would you look at that: http://i.imgur.com/YsNjWCc.png [imgur.com]

    Thanks for protecting me AVG. /sarcasm

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      That's just scumbaggery of the highest order, and you're not the first to report it.

      Fuck you, AVG, and I was someone who sent dozens, if not hundreds of people your way over the years by my recommendations - and not just "free" users.

      Comodo are my current "least hated" equivalent, but even they are doing some funky shit with their shellcode injection options being active EVEN WHEN DISABLED and interfering with things like the newest versions of Chrome being able to load successfully. Shit like that shouldn

    • by nadaou ( 535365 )

      My guess is that it found the hosts file localhost blackholing in this post:

      http://yro.slashdot.org/commen... [slashdot.org]

      No conspiracy theories needed.

      p.s. why haven't you uninstalled AVG yet? Will it detect itself as malware now?

  • So I went into the AVG control center, turned link scanner off, reloaded the page, and now it's letting me read it.
  • Seriously I stopped using AVG like 9 years ago when they started dicking around caching web pages and sticking their nose where they didn't belong.
  • Their data collection will include doccuments read during scans or returning some of the images on your computer ? Sounds like the next step.
  • Way to destroy your brand. It will be amusing to watch other virus and malware scanner pushing updated definitions to detect and remove AVG.

  • At the risk of getting flamed, at least they disclose and are up front about it. I can guarantee you that lots of companies are selling your personal data... ermmm.. I mean "anonymous marketing information" without telling you about it. To me that's infinitely worse. While I don't like AVG's actions, at least they have the decency to tell you about their policies in direct terms.
  • Remember, when they give you the software for free, you're not the customer. You're the product.

Just go with the flow control, roll with the crunches, and, when you get a prompt, type like hell.

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