AVG confirms it will sell your information to advertisers

Anti-virus firm AVG has updated its privacy policy to be “more transparent” with customers on advertising practices. The company got in hot-water when users found out the company was selling anonymous user information to advertisers.

In the update, AVG claims it uses non-personal information like device, recent apps and websites, and other stored information that doesn’t reveal anything about the user. All of this info is bundled into a profile, which is marketed to advertisers.

That does mean AVG takes a lot less information than Google or Facebook, who also utilise location, friends, status updates, and even photos to understand more about you.

Still, the hidden advertising deals worry users, who are unsure if this is all AVG are up to. What if personal information is on the plate next, and we don’t hear about it until someone finds the changes in the code like last time.

AVG is already walking a tightrope as security on desktop and mobile more often becomes a job for the manufacturer of the device or platform, rather than a third party. By alienating its audience with adverts, it might lose a lot of respect in the anti-virus world.

Of course, all companies need to make money. The vast majority of AVG users are still not paying a penny for the service, meaning the anti-virus firm needed to look into adverts as a potential way to keep growing as a service.

The new rules will go into effect on October 15, giving users a month to decide whether the adverts are worth the free anti-virus security. AVG claims that by continuing to use the service, you comply to the adverts, although there are ways to shut them off.

Security firms are starting to become less satisfied with the uptake in paid accounts, forcing them into advertising and other ways of monetization. This split between ad-supported and paid may work for services in general, but for security firms, there tends to be an unspoken agreement not to sell information to advertisers, since so much is available.

AVG may have crossed a boundary that users are uncomfortable following, but we’ll have to wait and see how many drop the service in the upcoming month.