When people talk about the importance of protecting their privacy, they often imagine hypothetical scenarios. But a lawsuit by Brian and Crystal Byrd suggests that renters may suffer the greatest breach of privacy. These rent to own computers allow companies to secretly record keystrokes, personal information, and webcam pictures of consumers. In the case of the Rent-to-Own Computers company, the software was developed to capture the personal information of consumers.
In response to the lawsuits, seven rent-to-own computer companies have settled with the Federal Trade Commission over concerns over spyware installed on their rented computers. The spyware logged keystrokes and took pictures of consumers’ homes. The software was so advanced that it even had a kill switch. In addition, it had an add-on program called Detective Mode, which helped rent-to-own computer companies locate rented computers and collect late payments.
The FTC said DesignerWare had violated consumers’ privacy by selling a program known as “Detective Mode.” The software could record keystrokes and screen shots, and even photograph anyone in front of the webcam. This software was installed without the consent of rent-to-own computer users. And it was uninstalled without the user’s knowledge. However, a privacy law is not yet enforceable, so the FTC filed suit against DesignerWare.
DesignerWare software was also found to be invasive of renter’s privacy. The program contained a “kill switch” that could turn off the computer if it was stolen or the renter failed to make payments. The software also had an add-on program called “Detective Mode” that gathered data about renters. It’s unclear what the legal proceedings will do in the future. However, it’s important to understand the implications of privacy issues associated with rent to own computers.