In October this year, the developer of AdBlock Plus, Wladimir Palant revealed how Avast and AVG extensions published on several popular Web browsers’ add-on stores were collecting user data. This user data could enable the company to analyse users’ browsing sessions. These Avast and AVG browser extensions were available on Opera, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome. Opera and Mozilla removed the extensions earlier this month and now Google has joined them by removing all the extensions from the Chrome Web Store except for one. To give you an idea of their popularity, Avast has around 400 million users.
Google has removed the Avast and AVG browser extensions from the Chrome Web Store. As of now, only the AVG Online Security browser extension remains available on the Chrome Web Store. Google hasn’t put out a statement on why it chose to remove these browser extensions. Google has removed Avast SafePrice, Avast Online Security, and AVG SafePrice from its add-on store.
Avast and AVG browser extensions were found to be collecting user data including website address, webpage title, browser version and type, user operating system, and other details. Other data collected by these extensions can be used to determine how many tabs a user had open, which websites a user visited and how much time was spent browsing those websites.
Palant claims he reported the browser extensions to both Google and Mozilla since the company violated their users’ privacy. While Mozilla disabled the extension listings, the company said it will work with Avast to fix things while ensuring the extensions continue working for existing users.
But since these browser extensions haven’t been blacklisted by any of the major Web browsers, existing users will continue to use them and these extensions will keep spying on them, notes Palant. Avast, which owns AVG, says users don’t have to worry about anything as the data collected by the company is anonymised.