Join Our Community... So We Can Spy On Your Every Online Move

from the ouch dept

Rich Kulawiec writes in to let us know that and (owned by Sears) have been inviting visitors to those sites to "join our community." However, rather than joining any actual community, what you appear to be doing is installing spyware that reports on your every move online. It's actually a trick to get you to install Comscore's tracking app. Comscore has been accused in the past of distributing spyware surreptitiously, which the company vehemently denies -- but it's hard to see how this is above board. It's certainly worse than Facebook's Beacon fiasco. What happens is that you are asked if you want to "join the community," and then, without clearly explaining what the software does, Comscore's tracking software is installed. After that, all of your online activities -- including to "secure" sites like banking sites -- is sent directly to Comscore, despite Sears' website insisting that none of the data you share will go to anyone but Sears. As for the "community," it doesn't seem like there is one. The security researcher who signed up for the community says that once the software is installed, there's no obvious indicator that it's installed or running -- and he received no "communications" from the so-called community whatsoever. Basically, it sounds like it's just a trick to get you to install this tracking software while hoping you'll forget about it.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    P.T.Barnum, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 5:50pm


    "There's a sucker born every minute...and two to take 'em."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Woadan, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 6:46pm

    All the more reason to not buy from Sears or K-Mart.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), Dec 20th, 2007 @ 7:22pm

    Haven't bought from Sears in over 20 years

    The thing that did it for me was having a roof installed by a "authorized" Sears contractor. If I had wanted a roof installed by a bunch of half-drunk illegal aliens (who littered my yard with beer cans), that had no meaningful warranty, and leaked every time it rained, I could have gotten that from somebody else at less than half the cost of a Sears roof.

    I was flabbergasted to learn that a "warranty" that covered "materials and labor" did not actually cover LEAKS! Like just WTF is a roof supposed to DO, anyway? It cost me another $500 (to a different contractor) to fix their defective installation.

    Prior to that time, I had actually bought most of my clothes, a large part of my household appliances, and all of my tools there. Those bastards will never get another dime out of me. If Sears is the ONLY place that sells a given item, I will do without.

    I sure as Hell won't be subscribing to their malware. I'm not at all surprised that their "community" is infested with that sort of crap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Cynic, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 7:34pm

    Sears is where America USED to shop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    LOL@that, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 8:27pm

    Is this the definition...

    of the term Searsucker?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    xtrasico, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 8:34pm


    Oh man. My wife works for Clinique at a Sears store. I hate malware. I hope my wife doesn't "join" that community. I'll have to warn her or she will join for sure. Cosmetologists and technology... no good bed fellows.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    eskayp, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 9:15pm

    Sears 'community'

    Why would any rational person want a tie-in to a corporate identity
    that is associated with Martha Stewart?

    Like duh!

    K-Mart chose a stock fraudster(?) fraudstress(?) as its icon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    superfreak, esq., Dec 20th, 2007 @ 10:08pm

    Re Sears 'community'

    she has to work somewhere!, else she'd turn to stealing!, and with her past history, it ain't gonna be just cutlery, entire retirement accounts may go missing.

    like jay leno said "here's a woman, a rare person these days, who is willing to cook and clean, and she's sent to prison?"


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2007 @ 5:17am

    Fact check

    KMart bought Sears in 2004 for $11B, not the other way around.
    Com'on Mike, stop being shrill about everything and actually focus on good reporting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2007 @ 6:16am

    Re: Haven't bought from Sears in over 20 years

    That's a good story for

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    4-80-sicks, Dec 21st, 2007 @ 6:26am

    Re: Fact check

    While it's certainly preferable to be correct, I don't see what's "shrill" about the claim of the erroneous statement. But hey, hypocrisy is fun!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Tom O'Brien, Dec 21st, 2007 @ 6:46am

    Word of Mouth Marketing Hall of Shame

    Just in time for nominations to the Word of Mouth Marketing Associations 2007 Hall of Shame.

    More here: hame/


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Darrell Young, Dec 21st, 2007 @ 7:46am

    Spyware and Doubleclick

    In 2000, I worked for then, Worldcom on the internet side for a product they were calling DSTREET.COM. Dstreet was digital street. Customers were going to be companies with less than 100 employees. Worldcom was going to provide all manner of technical stuff to its customers through this web portal.

    I worked for Vendor management who were responsible for ensuring the software vendors that built this product for Worldcom did it right. I was given the task of directing the development vendor to install "web tags" which Doubleclick needed to track site movement. In my research, I learned that these web tags were really web bugs or things known as clear-dot gif's. Their purpose in life is to report to the mother ship (Doubleclick) what parts of the page were developing and what things customers were looking at.

    I told management about this and they said do it anyway. I told them that our technically savvy customers would react negatively to the fact that we were spying on them yet our own privacy policy stated we would be providing no one any information about the customers surfing habits.

    I reported this on a conference call with about 200 people on board and was subsequently told by management to shut my dinosaur (COBOL) mouth and do what I was told. Soon, I was gone. Soon after that, Worldcom folded due to pressure from the Government over their overstated incomes. Subsequently, Worldcom overcame Enron as the poster child for Sarbanes-Oxley legislation that many of you are familiar with.

    I've been fighting (and removing) spyware ever since.

    Seriously-Cameapart (Sears/Kmart) are simply doing what most Americans allow whenever they click on the swinging monkey or play golf or any of the other play-games-for-free on the internet schmemes.

    As soon as Americans take resonsibility for their web surfing habits and stop thinking the web is like their car (only need the brakes and the gas pedal), they will be better off.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    policyreader, Dec 21st, 2007 @ 12:53pm

    The policy

    This is from the privacy. I wonder if anyone would sign up if they actually read this:
    Internet usage information: Once you install our application, it monitors all of the Internet behavior that occurs on the computer on which you install the application, including both your normal web browsing and the activity that you undertake during secure sessions, such as filling a shopping basket, completing an application form or checking your online accounts, which may include personal financial or health information. We may use the information that we monitor, such as name and address, for the purpose of better understanding your household demographics; however we make commercially viable efforts to automatically filter confidential personally identifiable information such as UserID, password, credit card numbers, and account numbers. Inadvertently, we may collect such information about our panelists; and when this happens, we make commercially viable efforts to purge our database of such information.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 24th, 2007 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Fact check

    I guess it might seem "shrill" and like bad reporting to someone who owns KMart/Sears stock.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Carl, Jan 5th, 2008 @ 7:09am

    The Policy...

    Here's the link to Sears' general privacy policy and to the "community". Interestingly, they only mention the installation of cookies, but not any other tracking program. A bit lacking in the full disclosure department.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Adolfo, Jun 30th, 2008 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Haven't bought from Sears in over 20 years

    u r a bunch of bullshit saying mexicans are half drunk illegal aliens

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    dolma, Jul 17th, 2008 @ 11:59pm

    want to know more about c,c++,c#,java ,oracle

    plz help me in these .. and i want to know the correct code

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Janet C. Squires, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 12:59pm


    When I was a little girl- sears was a family friendly store. Yesterday, I purchased a mattress and box spring, being they were on sale. I found you could not pay more on your purchase (if it was put on layaway) other than what they decide. If you miss a payment by one day you will lose your order. I no longer drive -therefore sometimes it is impossible for me to get there exactly when they want. I was paying it off in a couple of payments anyway (even if they would not accept more) Plus, they will not let you pick up your order so they charge you

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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