Assembly approves bill to prohibit spying on rental computer customers
Contact: Richard Holober / Brian Taylor
[CFC press release] SACRAMENTO – A measure to protect consumer privacy by restricting the use of spyware on rented computers passed unanimously off the Assembly floor today. The Consumer Federation of California is the sponsor of Assembly Bill 2667 (Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica) which ensures that consumers who rent a computer or electronic device do not fall victim to the use of invasive privacy technologies.
“AB 2667 outlaws the conduct of companies such as Aaron’s, a large national rent-to-own retail chain, which used secret spyware on rental computers to collect passwords, credit card records and medical records, and to activate webcams which photographed customers engaged in intimate activities in their homes,” Richard Holober, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California, stated.
“It is vital that strong and clear privacy standards are set for electronic devices in the rent-to-own industry,” said Assemblymember Bloom. “This bill will protect consumers from having their personal information accessed without their knowledge or consent.”
In 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took action against DesignWare LLC and seven rent-to-own companies including Aaron’s for the use of this “privacy-invasive software.” According to the FTC, spy technology was used by rent-to-own stores to deceptively gather consumers’ personal information through fake software registration notices, and the companies secretly monitored customers’ activities on rented computers. Consumers were unaware that the device contained this software, which allowed the retailer to track and report personal information about the user, including the physical location of the computer, keystrokes that revealed usernames and passwords, screen shots of the user’s activities, and photographs of anyone within view of the computer’s webcam.
The Assembly approved the bill on a 75-0 vote. It now moves to the state Senate for consideration in June.
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