individual spying brought to you by Sears

Benjamin Googins, an anti-spyware researcher, finds out what really happens when you opt in a Sears “community” program. Basically, your network setup is modified so that ALL YOUR WEB TRAFFIC is being redirected through a proxy owned by a third-party Sears associate called “comScore”. This is much worse than any usual invasion of privacy. comScore (whoever they might be) are able to sit back, relax and look through all your clicking habits, web searches, shopping, tastes in movies, music and books, web-based emails, activities in online communities, political opinions, even banking/tax information! (and I’m not even talking about porn) This is unforgivable. Hiding these despicable acts behind a “community”, taking advantage of the user’s good will to voluntarily participate in human society, nicely adds insult to injury.

(technical digression: what happens when the proxy is down? Are you then cut off from your web access?)

Even better is the answer from a Sears person (who previously worked at comScore, which is funny in a sad sort of way). I am astonished that anyone would actually pretend that installing spyware that intercepts all incoming and outgoing traffic (including secure transactions!) can be defensible in any way. The honourable thing to do would be to immediately take down the proxy, kill this whole mess and grovel in apologies. To argue that the proxy crap is clearly explained on page 10 of the 54-pages user agreement is not a reasonable answer. It’s so obviously and blatantly *wrong* that it boggles the mind. It’s somewhat satisfying — it’s not very often in this day and age that you get the opportunity to witness pure, exposed wrongness that doesn’t try to weasel its way through emotional visuals and marketing hypocrisy.

There should be public uproar.

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