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FTC settles with Lenovo in compromised security case

By Mark Iandolo | Sep 11, 2017

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Sept. 5 that Lenovo Inc., a global computer manufacturing company, will settle allegations of harming consumers by pre-loading software on some laptops that compromised security.

According to the FTC, Lenovo has sold consumer laptops since 2014 that come with a preinstalled “man-in-the-middle” software program called VisualDiscovery. This program purportedly interfered with how browsers interacted with websites, creating serious security vulnerabilities.

“Lenovo compromised consumers’ privacy when it pre-loaded software that could access consumers’ sensitive information without adequate notice or consent to its use,” said acting FTC chairman Maureen Ohlhausen. “This conduct is even more serious because the software compromised online security protections that consumers rely on.”

As per the settlement agreement, Lenovo is banned from misrepresenting software features that have been pre-loaded on laptops. Additionally, the company agreed to receive consumers’ affirmative consent before pre-installing this type of software.

The FTC voted 2-0 to issue the administrative complaint and to accept the consent agreement. Both Ohlhausen and Commissioner Terrell McSweeny issued statements about the case. The FTC noted it will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register, and the agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days. After that date, the FTC will decide whether to finalize the order.

Thirty-two state attorneys general were involved in the case.

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U.S. Federal Trade Commission