by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 20th 2007 5:38pm
Rich Kulawiec writes in to let us know that Sears.com and Kmart.com (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.
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