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Sears Settles With The FTC About Consumer Privacy Abuses With Undisclosed Tracking Software

I've Been Mugged discussed consumer privacy abuses by Sears in 2008. On June 4, 2009, ComputerWorld reported Sears Holdings Management settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about a complaint where Sears failed to inform "My SHC Community" customers about the large amount of sensitive personal data it collected with a downloadable software application:

"Sears Holdings, owner of the Sears and Kmart retail chains, invited some visitors of Sears.com and Kmart.com to become members of the "My SHC Community," paying them $10 if they agreed to download "research" software that would confidentially track their online browsing... the software not only tracked browsing, but also monitored customers' online secure sessions, including sessions on third-party Web sites... The Sears software collected the contents of shopping carts, online bank statements, drug prescription records, video rental records, library borrowing histories, and the sender, recipient, subject, and size of Web-based e-mail messages... The software would also track some computer activities that were unrelated to the Internet..."

From now through July 6, interested consumers can submit comments to the FTC about this Sears settlement. Before submitting a comment, consumers should read:

Based on comments received, the FTC will decide whether or not to proceed with the proposed settlement agreement. I encourage readers to review the proposed settlement. You may feel it is not strong enough, especialy about the sensitive consumer data Sears already collected.

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