AVG to use search records and browser history to sell ads

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Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen the extent of what can happen when privacy is breached on the Internet. From revenge porn to the rise of the swatter, the modern age of computing has unfortunately delivered some powerful tools to very questionable users.

Advertising seems to be the next big battleground for Internet privacy, with a host of companies interested in what data they can and cannot acquire from their users. The latest firm to fall afoul of a backlash from its customers is AVG, which recently posted an updated set of terms and conditions for its free antivirus software.

The terms outline a plan that will see AVG collect data like search records and your browser history, according to a report from Tech Spot. This information would then be sold on to companies, thereby funding further development of AVG’s array of software.

These terms come into effect on October 15, at which point AVG maintains that users will have the opportunity to opt out without receiving a diminished service. In the company’s defence, transparency has been its primary focus in the weeks leading up to this change.

However, transparency doesn’t mean much if you’re undermining the very nature of the software that you distribute. Wired spoke to security expert Alexander Hanff about the situation, and his advice was to “immediately uninstall the product and find an alternative.”

Of course, it’s too early to tell whether the implementation of this protocol will turn out to be as insidious as it sounds. AVG has stated that search data collection has long been part of its terms of service, although browser history has not been referenced in the documentation before now.

AVG claims to have more than 200 million users worldwide, which would make for a plentiful data harvest. However, it’ll be very interesting to see just how many of those users decide to look for alternative antivirus software in response to this dubious change in terms.