Culture

Avast is shutting down Jumpshot amid data-sharing backlash

“We are vigilant about our users’ privacy, and we took quick action to begin winding down Jumpshot’s operations after it became evident that some users questioned the alignment of data provisions to Jumpshot with our mission and principles...”

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Antivirus company Avast is cutting ties with Jumpshot after catching heat for the sketchy ways they’ve handled user data. The move comes after an investigation led by PCMag and Motherboard exposed how the companies have been selling de-identified data to top tech companies without users’ knowledge.

Now, Avast is attempting to save face; the company says it will no longer share data with Jumpshot and will “commence to wind down” the subsidiary.

Don’t be fooled, though — While the company says this decision reflects its “commitment to user safety and privacy protection,” it’s worth noting that all of this activity would have continued had Avast and Jumpshot not been caught and publicly shamed. Avast doesn’t really have a choice in its next steps if it wants to keep its customers and earn back trust. And apparently the company’s own CEO can barely even pretend otherwise.

“Avast’s core mission is to keep its users safe online and to give users control over their privacy,” said Avast CEO Ondrej Vlcek in a statement about the decision. “The bottom line is that any practices that jeopardize user trust are unacceptable to Avast.

“We are vigilant about our users’ privacy, and we took quick action to begin winding down Jumpshot’s operations after it became evident that some users questioned the alignment of data provisions to Jumpshot with our mission and principles that define us as a company.” Oh, okay.

In any case, it’s something — Avast has hundreds of millions of users and it owes them responsible data-handling practices. After all, it is an antivirus service. Simply saying that the company prioritizes user safety and privacy doesn’t mean anything if it’s doing shady things behind their backs. Moving forward, Avast might want to add transparency to that list of priorities, too.