The Seedy Side of Sears

Over the holiday season, and customers got an added bonus: tracking software many experts classify as spyware. Computer Associates Senior Researcher Benjamin Googins was asked to join MY SHC Community and through detailed reporting, determined the procedure failed to give users proper notice of what they were doing. Ultimately, Sears had users opt-in to install comScore tracking software. Further research was conducted by Ben Edelman, who contacted Sears and got a response about how SHC “goes through great lengths to describe the tracking aspect.” To which Edelman states, “I emphatically disagree.”

In a period where Web audience measurement is under scrutiny, it’s surprising to see the terms and conditions obfuscated when installing tracking software on user machines, if that is what Sears is, in fact, doing. Edelman alleges the practice is in violation of FTC rulings.

Further digging by Edelman uncovered another issue on Sears’ site. Once logged into the site, he discovered users can look up the purchase history of other members. When I tried to visit the Web site, it wouldn’t load. I’m unsure whether the site is having issues, or if it’s been taken down due to these findings.

Sears did not respond to a phone call requesting comment on either matter.

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