CCleaner is forcing updates on users who specifically opt out of automatic updates. Users will only find out about these unwanted updates when they check the version number.
The change was noticed by a forum user last week. The unwanted update happens in the background, without the users’ knowledge, and also results in Piriform gathering anonymized information about the user.
You might think this is a bug, because surely a company recently accused of not respecting user settings would never go out of its way to update software users who specifically choose not to get such updates. It’s not a bug, though. Piriform confirmed the change was intentional in a response post:
Since the release of v5.46 we have updated some users to this version to meet legal requirements and give users more autonomy and transparency over their privacy settings. This update has ensured that users are on a GDPR-compliant version that includes the most up-to-date privacy settings available.
That’s right: users who opted not to get updates were forced to update so they’d have access to better privacy settings. Those new settings, by the way, default to data collection. Here’s Lawrence Abrams, writing for Bleeping Computer:
To make matters worse, once the users were upgraded to the latest version, their privacy settings were reverted to default, which is to allow anonymous usage data to be sent to Avast/Piriform.
This really sound like a company that respects privacy.
Here’s a video from Bleeping Computer showing the forced update in action:
Earlier today I tried to say something nice about CCleaner, pointing out that a public beta could help users catch sketchy stuff before release. That was overly optimistic of me.
I know a lot of you love CCleaner. I used to too. In the late 2000s CCleaner was a fantastic free program from an indie developer who cared about building trust with geeks. Avast bought that company and is hoping to coast on nostalgic goodwill. Don’t let them. Crap like this isn’t okay, and a program originally called Crap Cleaner shouldn’t be pulling it.