FTC Gives Final Approval to Lenovo Settlement

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The Federal Trade Commission has given final approval to a settlement with Lenovo Inc., related to charges that the company harmed consumers by pre-loading software on some laptops that compromised security protections in order to deliver ads to consumers.

In its complaint, the FTC charged that beginning in August 2014 Lenovo began selling consumer laptops in the United States that came with a preinstalled advertising software program called VisualDiscovery that interfered with how a user’s browser interacted with websites and created serious security vulnerabilities.

As part of the settlement with the FTC, Lenovo is prohibited from misrepresenting any features of software preloaded on laptops that will inject advertising into consumers’ Internet browsing sessions or transmit sensitive consumer information to third parties. If the company preinstalls this type of software, the order requires the company to get consumers’ affirmative consent before the software runs on their laptops. In addition, the company is required for 20 years to implement a comprehensive software security program for most consumer software preloaded on its laptops. The security program will also be subject to third-party audits.

The FTC received 10 comments on the settlement. The FTC vote approving the final order as well as responses to the 10 commenters was 2-0.

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