Sears/Kmart loading spyware on computers?

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Update: Sears admits to installing spyware, claims it is disclosed in its 54 page privacy statement

A report published yesterday by Ben Edelman, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, indicates that the retail giant is violating Federal Trade Commission policies in its distribution of ComScore, an application that tracks Web browsing activity. If the allegation is true, this could erupt into another privacy scandal, such as Sony’s loading rootkits on music CDs (story).

Is this another case of technologists doing what they want and not following company policy or the law? Too often, technologists design and build systems to their own specifications without having informed outsiders review those specifications. This could also be a case of poor product data management, if a low-level person sneaked the spyware into the final system image without getting anyone’s approval.

Or was this a brazen and deliberate violation of the law? Time will tell.

News story here.

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