Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lawsuit: Rental firm spies on users

wavy
PITTSBURGH (AP) - A major furniture rental chain has software on its computers that lets it track the keystrokes, screenshots and even webcam images of customers while they use the devices at home, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Wyoming couple who said they learned about the PC Rental Agent "device and/or software" inside the computer they rented last year when an Aaron's Inc. store manager in Casper came to their home on Dec. 22.

The manager tried to repossess the computer because he mistakenly believed the couple hadn't finished paying for it, the couple said. Brian Byrd, 26, said the manager showed him a picture of Byrd using the computer — taken by the computer's webcam. The image was shot with the help of spying software, which the lawsuit contends is made by North East, Pa.-based Designerware LLC and is installed on all Aaron's rental computers.

"It feels like we were pretty much invaded, like somebody else was in our house," Byrd told The Associated Press in an exclusive telephone interview, the day before the suit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Erie. "It's a weird feeling, I can't really describe it. I had to sit down for a minute after he showed me that picture."

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