Friday, September 28, 2012

Outrageous - Anyone else would have landed in prison.

Companies agree to stop spying, taking secret photos on rented home computers

The US Federal Trade Commission has reached a settlement with seven computer rental companies and a software firm over what the agency said was flagrant computer spying on customers of the rental stores.

In a statement Wednesday, the FTC said that DesignerWare LLC and seven rent-to-own computer stores agreed to cease using malware-like monitoring software to track rental PCs and from using information gathered by the spying software for debt collection purposes.

According to the FTC, the software captured screenshots of confidential and personal information, logged users' keystrokes, and in some cases took "webcam pictures of people in their homes, all without notice to, or consent from, the consumers."

The settlement stems from what an FTC complaint (PDF link) says was a years-long campaign of electronic spying by PC rent-to-own firms against customers using PC Rental Agent, a remote monitoring application made and marketed by DesignerWare that can disable or remotely wipe a rented computer, but also monitored a user’s online activity and physical location using a feature called "Detective Mode." (more) (sing-a-long)

P.S. It also presented a fake software program registration screen that tricked consumers into providing their personal contact information.