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Sears Holding Corporation, which owns Sears, Roebuck and Kmart, has signed an agreement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and will destroy the information it harvested using ComScore (spyware) software last year.

It’s shocking that such a big and reputable company would get involved in something that invites Web users to an “exciting online community,” then installs spyware on their computers that monitors their online banking details, texts of secure pages they visit, online drug prescription records and email as well as the relatively mundane information about the web sites they visit.

To its credit, the company stopped the spying after public concern was raised. And they didn’t fight the FTC action.

For Web users, one big lesson here is that you must read those miserable, huge End User Licensing Agreements (EULAs). All the spying was described in the EULA that Sears presented. Of course it was on page 10 of a gargantuan 54-page privacy statement. Harvard University professor and spyware researcher Ben Edelman said the document failed to meet FTC standards set out during actions against spyware companies Direct Revenue and Zango.

News story here.

FTC news release here.

Tom Kelchner

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