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Sears, once known as “where America shops” should now be known as “where America gets spied on.” That’s because Sears has installed spyware on the computers of any of their Sears’ customers who signed up for the Sears “My SHC Community” (SHC stands for “Sears Holdings Corporation”), spying on not only what they buy, but on everything they do on the Internet.
And, in case you didn’t quite catch that, yes, it said including checking your “personal financial or health information“!
After a customer clicked “join” to join the My SHC Community, Sears would download VoiceFive software, using comScore spying technology, onto their customer’s computer.
The story was first broken by Benjamin Googins, of Computer Associates, who concluded that “Sears.com is pushing software with extensive user tracking capabilities and doing a very poor job of obtaining informed consent â€“ if at all. After the proxy software is installed on the user’s system there is nothing on the user’s desktop to indicate their every move on the Internet is being collected and sent to a third party market research company, comScore.”
Separately, but relatedly, Sears was also sued this week for failing to adequately protect the private information of their customers stored on the Sears ManageMyHome.com website, when it came to light that it was dead easy for anybody to view the private shopping information of any Sears customer using just the customer’s name, address, and telephone number.
The lawsuit was filed by a customer whose private details were, in fact, open to exploitation on the Manage My Home site, and alleges that the site is “fatally flawed and was designed in such a way as to significantly compromise the private information of its customers.” The lawsuit goes on to say that “At the most simple level, anyone can now access Sears’s customers private purchase history, meaning that a nosy person can find out how much his neighbor spent on a new washing machine or lawnmower. More problematically, marketing companies can mine the Managemyhome website for data about Sears customers, in order to transmit detailed advertisements for additional products and/or warranties.”
Sears has issued a statement saying that “We take our customers’ privacy concerns very seriously. We appreciate the efforts of those who brought the issue to our attention.”