Aaron's, FTC settle cyberspying charges
November 5, 2013,
ATLANTA - The Federal Trade Commission said it has reached a settlement with rent-to-own retailer Aaron's Inc. regarding FTC charges that the company knowingly played a role in franchisees installing and using software on rental computers that secretly monitored consumers in their homes.
The FTC order did not include a monetary settlement amount.
The monitoring activity included taking webcam pictures of consumers in their homes. The software allegedly tracked consumer locations and even captured images of adults engaged in intimate activities, the FTC said.
Aaron's officials declined to comment due to pending litigation.
A complaint filed with the FTC alleges that Aaron's knew about the privacy invasive features of the software, but allowed its franchisees to access and use the software. The FTC said that Aaron's also provided franchisees with instructions on how to install and use the software, known as the PC Rental Agent. The FTC said the company also stored data collected by the software and transmitted messages form the software for its franchisees.
The settlement reached with the FTC states that Aaron's will be prohibited from using monitoring technology that captures keystrokes or screenshots, or that activates the camera or microphone on a consumer's computer except to provide technical support requested by the consumer, the FTC said.
The order also prohibits Aaron's from gathering any data or information via any consumer product via any location tracking technology without notifying the consumer at the time of rental.
In the settlement agreement, Aaron's also neither admits nor denies any of the allegations in the draft complaint other than those specifically noted in the order.