Multiple companies accused by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of spying on customers around the world have agreed to settle with the consumer protection agency – although two of the involved businesses remain entangled in a separate civil lawsuit filed over similar privacy invasion allegations.
The FTC contended that Pennsylvania-based developer DesignerWare licensed software for rental computers that was capable of logging users' keystrokes, capturing screenshots and taking webcam pictures. The software was created for "rent-to-own" computer companies wanting to track their machines and disable them upon non-payment by customers.
But in a news release, the FTC said the software, called PC Rental Agent, was capable of gathering confidential information – including Social Security numbers; medical records and credentials for email accounts, banking institutions and social media sites, as well as taking webcam photos of computer users.The rent-to-own companies named in the complaint and resulting settlement are Aspen Way Enterprises, Watershed Development, Showplace Rent-to-Own, B. Stamper Enterprises, C.A.L.M. Ventures, J.A.G. Rents and Red Zone.
In addition to the FTC action, two of the involved businesses -- Aspen Way Enterprises and DesignerWare -- were sued in 2011 by a couple from Casper, Wyo., who found out about the spyware.