Quoted: on rent-to-own computers that spied on users

“We don’t have the authority to impose civil fines for the first violation of the FTC Act.”

Claudia Bourne Farrell, FTC spokeswoman, tells Wired why a maker of spying software and seven rent-to-own computer companies were not fined as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday. In a complaint (PDF, includes names of the companies), the FTC said Pennsylvania-based DesignerWare and the rent-to-own companies spied on unsuspecting computer users by logging their keystrokes, taking screen shots of their personal information and using webcams — which in some cases took “pictures of children, individuals not fully clothed, and couples engaged in sexual activities.” The software also used fake registration screens to trick people into giving up personal information. In a statement, the FTC said the companies are banned from using the spying software and “using deception to gather any information from consumers.” They also must disclose the use of geolocation tracking to customers. The FTC will monitor compliance for the next 20 years.


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  • RedRat

    Herein lies the problem of our illustrious Congress. You create a regulatory agency than immediately emasculate it. One the one side, you have all the hullabaloo about creating this great agency that will protect the public’s interests but then do not permit it to fine or prosecute violators of needed regulation. OK, this is the FTC, but what about the SEC, how many did the SEC prosecute in financial turmoil over the past several years? Sounds like “NADA”, eh? Also, look at FDA and USDA for drug and food regs.

    Here I blame both Republicans AND Democrats for going along with kid of nonsense. Both parties know what is going on when they worked to create these agencies. They are therefore in collusion on the results. A pox on both parties.