Avast pulls latest CCleaner update following privacy outrage

Version 5.45 made changes to data collection and removed privacy settings from its free version altogether

Avast has pulled the latest update to CCleaner over privacy concerns following changes to the way the application collected data.

Version 5.45 of the widely-used cleanup and optimisation tool, released in July, removed privacy settings entirely from its free version, and made it impossible to permanently disable an 'active monitoring setting' that had been extended to incorporate analytical functions.

Avast promised to reverse some of these changes over the next few weeks following an initial backlash, but yet more outrage led the company to pulling the update altogether - reverting the software to version 5.44.

"Since the release, you have shared your feedback and we have been listening," the company posted on a forum. "Some of you are concerned that CCleaner might be accessing and sharing your personal data. To be clear, CCleaner does not collect any personal data. Some of you told us that you do not want to share even anonymous usage data. After listening to your feedback we realize we need to provide you with a better level of control for anonymous data collection."

Avast later said it would revert CCleaner to its previous iteration "while we work on a new version with several key improvements". The release notes for the widely-maligned version 5.45 have also been removed from the website.

The developers will work on reversing a handful of the most maligned changes, promising to split 'active monitoring' alerts from data collection, and providing separate settings for these in user preferences.

"We understand the importance of this to you all," the company posted on Friday. "This work is our number one priority and we are taking the time to get it right in the next release. There are numerous changes required, so that does mean it will take weeks, not days. While we work on this, we have removed version 5.45 and reinstated version 5.44."

CCleaner developer Piriform was acquired by cybersecurity software company Avast in July last year. The following September, version 5.33 of the app was used by hackers to spread a sophisticated malware to millions of users. Other concerns surround Avast's approach, including prompting users to download additional Avast software during the CCleaner installation process, and displaying increasingly-frequent pop-up adverts.

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