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Aaron's Caught Using Monitoring Software On Customers, Including Keylogging and Picture Taking

by on26 October 2013 2114 times

As if it were not bad enough that the NSA, FBI, Local Law Enforcement and the Copyright industry is spying on you now we find out that even rent-to-own companies are doing it. Yup, you read that right: rent-to-own companies are leasing/selling computers to their customers that have spyware installed on them. According to a complaint filed by the FTC against Aaron’s they have been doing this for a while and their efforts have caught everything from logins to actual pictures of the people on the other end of the line.

Aaron’s settled the complaint quickly which would seem to indicate they were guilty, at least on some level. However they still have to face a consumer lawsuit against them which alleges the same thing: Aaron’s is placing tracking software on rental systems that is blatantly invasive. Although there is some logic to using software to physically track the location of a rental product (in case there is a need to repossess) there is nothing that warrants the inclusion of software that includes a keylogger.

The FTC settlement will be a big weapon in the consumer suit against Aaron’s. It is likely that the parties involved will get a decent payout and Aaron’s will face further restrictions. Right now the FTC is proposing that Aaron’s be prohibited from using any software that captures what users are doing in any manner. They also are requiring that Aaron’s get permission before using any location devices or software (which is reasonable).

The settlement and the suit are all good news for privacy advocates, but there is a much more disturbing question here: did Aaron’s or their employees actively attempt to capture information on customers and, if they did, were any of them minors? There is a much larger legal issue here that could include the use of monitoring technology to spy on children. We could not find out if there is anyone looking into this half of the question and what consequences there will be (if any). Aaron’s would not be the first organization that had employees using monitoring software to take pictures of kids, so it is important to ensure that this was not the case here. We also have to wonder how many other companies are doing exactly the same thing, but just have not be caught yet.

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Last modified on 26 October 2013
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