Google Removes Avast, AVG Extensions From Chrome Web Store

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Google takes action over data collection concerns about browser extensions from Avast, AVG, joining similar action by Mozilla and Opera

Google has followed similar action by the Mozilla Foundation after it removed three add-ons from the Chrome Web Store that belonged to Avast and AVG.

The action was reported by Wladimir Palant, who is responsible for the AdBlock Plus extension for Firefox.

Earlier this month Palant had documented how the Mozilla Foundation had taken the decision to remove Avast and AVG extensions out of it Firefox store, over data privacy concerns. Opera has also done the same.

Tracking concerns

And now it seems that Avast SafePrice, Avast Online Security, and AVG SafePrice have been removed from the Chrome Web Store.

Only AVG Online Security is still available on the store.

Palant has previously alleged that while the extensions prevent malware infections and phishing safeguards, the Avast and AVG extensions are also spying on the web surfing habits of users.

He also alleged the extensions when installed in a browser, track the URL and title of every webpage the user visits.

The add-ons also reportedly document how the user got to that page, along with a per-user identifier and details about the operating system and browser version used, plus other metadata.

All that data is then transmitted back to Avast’s back-end servers

“Avast Online Security collecting personal data of their users is not an oversight and not necessary for the extension functionality either,” Palant wrote in early December. “The extension attempts to collect as much context data as possible, and it does so on purpose.”

Avast purchased its rival AVG back in 2016 for $1.3bn.

Google action

And now in an update to that document about Mozilla’s actions, Palant confirm that Google has now also taken action.

“Google unexpectedly removed three of the extensions from Chrome Web Store. Only AVG Online Security extensions remains listed,” Palant noted in an update.

It should be noted that whilst these Avast and AVG extensions have been removed from the web store, the extensions themselves will installed in browsers for the time being. Users just cannot download the three extensions from the Chrome web store store any more.

Avast for its part has previously acknowledged the issue and worked with Mozilla to resolve the problem.

This meant that Avast managed to get both Online Security extensions listed again in the Firefox store over the past week by removing unneeded data collection.

It can be assumed that it will conduct similar fixes for the Chrome counterparts.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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