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Sears Using Spyware to Monitor Your Personal Information

See the Softer Side of Spyware at SearsIf you've signed up to receive e-mails from Sears, and then clicked on to join the retailer's "My SHC Community," it's likely you've been providing more information to more people than you thought. Even more troubling, it turns out that you're not just sharing information with Sears, but also with a company called comScore, which tracks and aggregates Internet browsing habits.

Installing the software from Sears results in the installation of software called VoiceFive, which provides data to comScore. It's essentially spyware. comScore is the company behind the (disputed) numbers that indicated more people were stealing Radiohead's latest album than downloading it legally, as well as the statistics that showed GodTube was the fastest growing site last August.

These sorts of stats come from monitoring and compiling the habits of millions of Web surfers who are often unknowingly running the comScore software. Likewise, those who have installed the software through links from Sears may not actually know what they're participating in. Buried deep in the privacy statement users must agree to before signing up for SHC is this frightening statement:
Once you install our application, it monitors all of the Internet behavior that occurs on the computer on which you install the application, including both your normal web browsing and the activity that you undertake during secure sessions, such as filling a shopping basket, completing an application form or checking your online accounts, which may include personal financial or health information.
Sounds scary, especially the part about monitoring "both your normal web browsing and the activity that you undertake during secure sessions, such as...checking your online accounts." The bit about "personal financial or health information" is scary, too. The above wording would certainly ward off anyone who actually reads these sorts of things, but we're guessing that the average Sears shopper isn't thoroughly scanning through the privacy statement.

According to BetaNews, the disclosure may be a little too well hidden to meet the intents of FTC regulations that require companies to make such spyware inclusion very clearly apparent. Many would agree that burying it in the middle of a multi-page privacy statement doesn't do much for clarity.

From BetaNews

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Tags: Bad Companies, BadCompanies, breaking+news, Sears, Spyware, top

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