Thu, Sep 07, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Tech firm to pay US$3.5m over preloaded software

AP, TRENTON, New Jersey

A technology company is to pay US$3.5 million and change how it sells laptop computers as part of a settlement reached with US officials and 32 states.

The agreement with Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想) announced on Tuesday settles allegations that the firm, based in Morrisville, North Carolina, sold devices with preloaded software that made users’ sensitive personal information vulnerable to hackers.

The VisualDiscovery software was installed on hundreds of thousands of laptops to deliver pop-up ads to consumers.

Lenovo stopped shipping laptops with VisualDiscovery preinstalled in February 2015, but some states contend some laptops with the software still were being sold by retail outlets as late as June 2015.

Under the settlement, Lenovo is to obtain consumers’ consent to use the software and provide a reasonable way for them to opt out of it or to disable or remove it.

The US Federal Trade Commission said Lenovo “compromised consumers’ privacy” when it preloaded the software without their consent or adequate notice.

“This conduct is even more serious because the software compromised online security protections that consumers rely on,” acting commission chair Maureen Ohlhausen said.

Lenovo on Tuesday said it “disagrees with the allegations” contained in the complaints about VisualDiscovery, but it said it was pleased to “bring this matter to a close.”

The company said it was unaware of any instances of a third party exploiting the vulnerabilities to gain access to a user’s communications.

It also said that it stopped preloading VisualDiscovery and worked with antivirus software providers to disable and remove it from consumers’ computers after learning of the issues.

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