Over 10,000 Netherlands residents have signed up for a lawsuit against security company Avast, known for its virus scanners. According to Consumers United in Court (CUIC), Avast used its virus scanners to secretly collect users’ data for years and then sold the privacy-sensitive data to large companies for millions. The foundation wants almost 10 million euros in damages for Dutch consumers, AD reports.
Over 435 million users, including 5 million Netherlands residents, had anti-virus software by Avast installed on their phones or computers in recent years. Between May 2015 and January 2020, Avast made millions by using these virus scanners to collect users’ data – including Google searches, GPS coordinates, visits to porn sites, online purchases, and search history – and sold it to companies like Google, Microsoft, Yelp, and Pepsi through its subsidiary Jumpshot, according to the claim.
The CUIC Foundation and the civil rights organization Privacy First are now preparing a civil case against the Czech antivirus giant. They recently invited Avast to discuss “an amicable solution,” but the invitation “did not have the desired result.” Over 10,000 Netherlands residents have joined the mass claim so far. CUIC wants compensation between 800 and 1,100 euros per affected user.
“It is bizarre that Avast, a company that stands for online security, has collectively abused our trust,” a spokesperson for CUIC told AD. “It is an upside-down world. You install an antivirus program to protect your PC, and you get espionage in return. We consider this a major scandal.”
Any Nehtelrans resident who had an Avast virus filter or browser extension on their laptop, computer, telephone, or tablet between 2015 and 2020 can join the mass claim here, free of charge. The Amsterdam litigation financier Omni Bridgeway sponsors the lawsuit. The company will receive 10 to 25 percent of any compensation resulting from the case.
CUIC urged Netherlands residents to join the lawsuit, saying that the more people sign up, the better the chance that Avast will actually have to pay compensation. “You must not be able to get away with this kind of practice where money has been knowingly earned from privacy violations. People have no idea that Avast sold their data or what it is now being used for. A ‘sorry’ is not enough for that. Otherwise, nothing will change.”