back to article AVG defends plans to flog user data as privacy row continues

Security software firm AVG has defended changes in its privacy policy, due to come into effect on Thursday (15 October), allowing it to collect and resell users’ anonymised web browsing and search history. AVG argues that it has no immediate plans to monetise users’ browsing habits. However, independent security experts remain …

Anonymous Coward

AVG has 200 million users, split among desktop and mobile versions of its security software.

I wonder how this number will change in next months...

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Re: AVG has 200 million users, split among desktop and mobile versions of its security software.

199 million 999 thousand 999, 'cause I've nuked AVG from my computers because of this.

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Re: AVG has 200 million users, split among desktop and mobile versions of its security software.

I wonder how this number will change in next months...

I'm actually quite interested to know that. Of course, as soon as the news broke that they were doing this, I pulled AVG off my machines - and I'd expect pretty much every other El Reg reader/commentard to have done the same.

The real question is whether Joe & Jane Bloggs will a) ever hear about it, and if they do, b) give a toss. Based on conversations I've been having with various people lately, most of them seem worryingly unbothered about having their personal data slurped and analysed, if it means they get Free Stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AVG has 200 million users, split among desktop and mobile versions of its security software.

Already done. Did it this week. Sure, they are "free" to flog my data for money...just as I'm free to say "Stuff off".

Bye, AVG.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AVG has 200 million users, split among desktop and mobile versions of its security software.

The answer to your question is: yes. Even I saw the 4x5in pop-up that didn't auto-close, with their notification. I use AVGFree, but intend to firewall their reporting traffic. Or replace their software.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AVG has 200 million users, split among desktop and mobile versions of its security software.

As far as I know this doesn't effect the paid for version so I can see no reason to change the majority of computers I've got running it. I've got a free version on my phone but that hasn't warned me and nor can I find an "opt out". Perhaps it's paid for and I've forgotten!

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Silver badge

Shouldn't be allowed to call themselves a security company

I left AVG when their demands to upgrade from the free edition got too annoying.

They of all people should understand the worthlessness of anonymisation to a sufficiently determined attacker (advertiser) after all they are the same people who have pioneers a lot of the big data analysis techniques.

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Silver badge

Re: Shouldn't be allowed to call themselves a security company

I didn't find the daily demand an issue. But when this broke it was removed from my pcs and family pcs. We run comodo now.

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-1

I will be removing AVG from the living room PC by tomorrow.

I don't mind paying for something else. This new policy is idiotic IMO.

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MJI
Silver badge

They lost me years ago

When it became a resource hog and prescanned every link in google search

Avast seems OK

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Re: They lost me years ago

We're in the process of dumping Avast as well as they seem to be following the same path as AVG in more ways than the Jumpstation adventure mentioned in the article.

The nag screens (even in the paid for enterprise version) have become unbearable, plus they are displayed to the wrong public. Nothing more fun than a bunch of irate users demanding to know why this software wants their credit card to update itself :-/

That, plus a failure to update the AV database on an ever growing number of PCs due to excessive RAM allocation pretty much makes it useless. The latter issue was reported early September and still no fix in sight.

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Silver badge

Re: They lost me years ago

Avira seems quite minimalist, at least in appearance. Seems to do better than AVG and Avast in antivirus tests too, if that's worth anything.

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Re: They lost me years ago

Even Avast is a resource hog now compared to a few years ago.

The constant nagging that can't be disabled finally drove me away about 2 years back.

Using Bitdefender (free) these days, seems to consistently come high in detection ratings, minimal hassle (ideal for the parents), and just gets on with it.

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Anonymous Coward

risk undermining trust between users and vendors in general

WTF, I trust vendors as much as I trust banks and politicians. Ah, well, but I'm the paranoid type! Let's shear the sheep before the sun sets, i.e. before they grow too touchy...

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Never using it again

We stopped using AVG cause it consistently scored badly (compared to other scanners) in AV tests. Their sales droids have been badgering me ever since to rejoin.

And then they pull a stunt like this? There are some excellent chainsaws now-a-days that I strongly encourage them to sit upon.

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Happy

Snowden

Having had various conversations with various folk about privacy, I've come to the conclusion that the total apathy most of them display is down to ignorance and misplaced trust in companies, and the government.

Whether its AVG and browsing history, NHS health records or GCHQ, one of these days the data will be stolen or leaked. Whenever I hear the protestations that data will be protected and is safe, I just think of Edward Snowden. Good job for the intelligence community he wasn't a BOFH.

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Silver badge

Out of curiosity since we don't use windows, how are they proposing to collect this browser usage information? Is it through some sort of firefox addon, if so I would assume it could be disabled and/or removed.

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Proxy

Out of curiosity since we don't use windows, how are they proposing to collect this browser usage information?

At a guess, they would install an HTTP proxy and monitor all the traffic before it got to the browser, whichever one was in use.

Other AV packages I've seen already do this to filter malicious web content.

The whole thing would be defeated by using only HTTPS (unless they also installed a man-in-the-middle attack on the SSL connection, and that's been done before, too).

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Silver badge

Now here's a thought.

What would happen if the users of AVG started a class action suit to collect royalties on their data that AVG is selling?

Yeah, I know, in my dreams, but if it happened, it just might set a precedent in the data brokering industry.

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Since it's anonymous, why doesn't AVG just make up the data - it'll be just as useful to advertisers as if was real data.

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Thumb Down

re: fake data

I'm sure AVG and everyone else already pad their data, but slurping additional "real" data adds a veneer of truthiness to the sell. If I'm flogging widgets using company XYZ's user data to find my target audience, I have no idea what to expect: if I sell stuff, great; if not, is it because the data is flawed or because my product is crap? Commence finger-pointing in five... four... three....

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Gold badge

They might, but everyone will *know* it is made up if they don't at least *announce* that they are starting to collect the real product.

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Thumb Down

What happened?

I thought the idea of free consumer AV was to get virus data to enhance corporate (paid) AV.

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Good old 9.5

I got shot of AVG after 9.5 was updated to the bloatware they call an antivirus.

Removing or anonymization the data, then how will you get spammed via the post or email if AVG don't sell all your details. It's all BOLLOCKS.

Maybe they just want to perve at your private pictures.

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Gold badge

Heads up! It's 2015...

“We’ve published a simpler policy that even someone’s Mum can understand,”

Well, yeah, because mums are pretty smart, unlike senior security evangelists.

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and ten more

Just completed the purge so that's another 10 AVG users gone.

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Anonymous Coward

If something is free....

....you are the product being sold.

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Silver badge

Re: If something is free....

sometimes not. They previously relied on the upsell as they had a paid for option. This wasn't enough so they now slurp your surfing habits.

Other free providers still rely on people buying a more comprehensive security package.

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Free as in Lunch

They really didn't think, they supply Antivirus definitions to WatchGuard and other vendors to integrate in their products, all these others will now be quickly looking for another vendor that does not come with a PR nightmare!

I stopped using AVG since version 7, mostly as I didn't like the way it was starting to nag about the paid version...

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Anonymous Coward

' “We’ve published a simpler policy that even someone’s Mum can understand,” Anscombe explained. '

If I hadn't already wiped AVG from its remaining installations--and got my offspring to do the same--that would have caused me to jump ship.

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Anonymous Coward

AVG renewal nagware

I've been putting up with it for a while and was going to renew (pay $$) until I read this.

Now nuking my computer. bye bye AVG you were once the best but now im one of $=fx2x10¬8 -n+1

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Silver badge
Angel

Oh hello...

What is this AVG? I know about AGC (automatic gain control) and AMD (keep bailing lads) but this is a new one on me. {snigger}

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Big Brother

What about data in transit?

Companies say that they will protect our data that they gather, but we, as a market, are increasingly concerned with who intercepts our data.

They might anonymise the data they receive but who can read the data in transit?

If the data is not essential to the programs purpose then we prefer our data not to leave our computer to be sprayed across the internet.

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Bitdefender

As an alternative, I switched to the free version of Bitdefender a while back, after Avasts constant nagging and steady increased bloat.

It seems to consistently scores highly in independent testing, and is very lightweight in installation and system impact.

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Analogy?

Trying to explain this in simple terms to elderly people will probably be a bit difficult. I'm trying to come up with an analogy and the current one is a company selling burglar alarms that then sells non-identifiable information on alarms, number of doors and windows on a house etc to criminals / all who pay. Can anyone come up with a better one?

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They say they won't sell personal information such as names, emails, addresses, or payment card details. Does that mean that they have that information? If so, users are depending that AVG never gets hacked, or has a disgruntled employee leave with the data, etc.

I stopped using it years ago when it became more invasive and harder to uninstall than many viruses.

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noj

nothing for free

I know that someone with sufficient tech savvy really wants to get information from any of my devices they can, no matter what I do

But the argument that "they get all our stuff anyway" doesn't justify a vendor just giving away my information without my explicit permission. And I never give that permission.

I go through great pains to keep my devices as private and secure as I can. A part of that is I don't install free apps, subscribe to free services that have to make their money from "somewhere". I pay for all my apps and services, they all require minimal information, and have good SLA's (I DO read SLA's), which includes a guarantee of keeping the information I share with that vendor safe and secure.

Nobody just "gets my stuff anyway." If someone still wants any information on my devices they have to go after it and there can be no doubt they are doing it without my permission and committing theft.

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Linux

Antivirus software.. where have I heard that before?

Oh, yeah! When I ran Windows on my computers.

Not any more...

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And another one...

.. bites the dust. Cancelled my renewal.

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