Feeds

Sears told to destroy data gathered by online tracking software

Catalogue of snooping does not impress FTC

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

US retailer Sears has been ordered to destroy all the customer data it collected from a piece of online tracking software that consumer regulator the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said was unfairly used.

The FTC said that while customers had been warned that, once downloaded, software would track their browsing, it had in fact tracked browsing on third party websites, secure browsing including banking and transactions and even some non-internet computer activity.

"The FTC charged… that the software also monitored consumers’ online secure sessions – including sessions on third parties’ Web sites – and collected consumers’ personal information transmitted in those sessions, such as the contents of shopping carts, online bank statements, drug prescription records, video rental records, library borrowing histories, and the sender, recipient, subject, and size for web-based e-mails," said an FTC statement.

Sears has been ordered to make notification of any future tracking clearer, and to delete all the information gathered through the use of the software.

"Only in a lengthy user license agreement, available to consumers at the end of a multi-step registration process, did Sears disclose the full extent of the information the software tracked," said an FTC statement. "The [FTC] complaint charged that Sears’s failure to adequately disclose the scope of the tracking software’s data collection was deceptive and violates the FTC Act."

Sears, which owns KMart, has settled the case with the FTC, the regulator said.

Sears paid some visitors to sears.com and kmart.com $10 to participate in a scheme to monitor their browsing via "research software".

The full extent of the monitoring was only made clear in a long user agreement visible after the downloading of the software. Sears has agreed to tell users more clearly and prominently what activity will be recorded, and to do so before any software is downloaded.

The case resulted from an administrative complaint from the FTC itself. "The Commission issues or files a complaint when it has 'reason to believe' that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest," it said.

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal
And our man Corfield is pretty bloody cross about it
China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft
Doesn't much like Apple or Google, either
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Don't even THINK about copyright violation, says Indian state
Pre-emptive arrest for pirates in Karnataka
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?