Antivirus maker Avast shuts down data collection firm after controversy

Subsidiary Jumpshot is being closed after allegations that it sold people's web browsing data.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
Expertise Culture | Video Games | Breaking News
Sean Keane

Avast is shutting down subsidiary Jumpshot over allegations that it sold user data.

Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

Free antivirus software-maker Avast is shutting down subsidiary company Jumpshot following reports by Motherboard and PCMag that it sold "highly sensitive" web browsing data.

Avast's software, installed on millions of computers worldwide, reportedly gathered data on people's online activities and sent it to Jumpshot, which in turn tried to sell it to clients. Avast says that personal information -- such as names, email addresses or contact details -- was never shared or sold.

Avast CEO Ondrej Vlcek said in a blog post Wednesday that he and the board of directors decided to "terminate the Jumpshot data collection and wind down Jumpshot's operations" immediately. The subsidiary's clients reportedly included Google, Unilever, Revlon, McKinsey and others.

Vlcek noted that both Avast and Jumpshot "acted fully within legal bounds" and complied with Europe's General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.

First published at 4:50 a.m. PT.
Update, 5:12 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.
Correction, 7:15 a.m. PT: An earlier version of this story misstated Avast's comments on Jumpshot. The company denies that any personal information was ever shared or sold. 

Watch this: Avast reportedly selling user data, DeLorean's comeback?