“Big Brother” was watching all right, and it turns out he is a pervert. Several computer rental companies, allegedly videotaping customers having sex using illegal software, have settled with the feds this week. Were you caught in the act?
As reported in New York Times, you may have used one of the 420,000 computers worldwide that had the webcam software, PC Rental Agent, installed on it. According to the Federal Trade Commission, as of August 2011, 1,617 rent-to-own stores in the United States, Canada and Australia rented computers loaded with the spyware.
The seven computer rental companies entangled in the suit contracted DesignerWare, a Pennsylvania-based software enterprise, to create a most disturbing program, invading the privacy of the consumers.
The webcam installed on these computers was designed to capture, and in many instances did, individuals engaged in sexual activity, private emails, social security numbers, medical records, doctor’s names, bank account information and pictures of children. Of course, only those sexual acts performed in front of a powered on computer were at risk of being taped.
No word if criminal action was or will be taken, however, the settlement has these computer companies under scrutiny by the F.T.C. for the next 20 years, with a ban on any monitoring or tracking devices being used; a slap on the wrist for such an invasion of privacy.
Apparently, the rent-to-own stores need to monitor where the computer rentals are for safety of investment, however, those listed below will no longer have access to that device, or be able to utilize any of the illicit information captured to secure debts.
Word to the wise, do not use rental computers, even if the names are not listed below and refrain from any sexual activity, or nude romping while a computer is on. You never know who may be watching and recording.