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Rin's Room #25: Lenovo's Spyware Scandal. Presented by Saljack Enterprises. Gaming. Animation. Media. Entertainment. Woman Owned.

Hey, guys! Guess what’s happened today! Or really, a few days ago–but I digress. Lenovo is in deep, deep water because the Federal Trade Commission just announced that it settled with Lenovo over three privacy violations! Almost a million Lenovo laptops that were sold between August 2014 and June 2015 came pre-installed with VisualDiscovery, a program made by this California-based firm you may have heard of called SuperFish. The program acted as a gate for anyone trying to access a browser, which means they had access to all your browsing history and possibly even your private information!

bought a Lenovo Y40-80 in March 2014, so it looks like I’m still safe, but now I’m feeling kind of relieved that it’s broken because I won’t have to deal with the risk of having frightening spyware on my computer.

Maureen Ohlhausen, the acting chairman of the FTC, said, “Imagine the online equivalent of someone, without your knowledge, intercepting your mail, opening it, reading it, resealing it and putting it back in your mailbox. That’s what we allege the software did.”

Her quote really puts the danger into perspective: imagine if someone did that to you! That’s an incredible breach of privacy that goes against everything we’re fighting for, and personally, I would never want anyone trying to access my email or browsing info unless I gave them explicit permission to do so! (And for the record, I would never do that). You know we’re all waged in a war against corporations for net neutrality and consumer protection, which is why we’ve always gotten so angry in the past when we found out that certain organizations were spying on us or trying to use our data against us.

Apparently, the software had eyes on user’s log-in credentials, Social Security numbers, and even medical information and e-mails. That’s crazy. That’s like…the Nigerian prince scam gone professional. It’s really shady that Lenovo would just allow that sort of product to be downloaded and shipped out with their computers. Don’t they value their customers?

What happened to Lenovo?

So the FTC actually can’t fine Lenovo yet, but individual states can. And that’s exactly what they’ve done. The attorneys general (basically the attorney working for the state) acted together with the FTC in order to fine the company. The biggest of these was Connecticut, who announced that they’d receive over $250,000 in settlements.

At this stage, the FTC can’t actually levy any sort of fine against Lenovo, but if Lenovo violates the orders the FTC announced, the federal agency can lay down the fine hammer.

However, the attorneys general in 32 states acted alongside the FTC and those states have fined the company. In total, Lenovo will pay out $3.5 million to the 32 states. The leading state in the case was Connecticut, and its attorney general, George Jepsenannounced Tuesday that the state will receive $286,145 in settlement funds.

You can see Lenovo’s official statement here. Part of it reads,

“Today it was announced that Lenovo has reached settlements with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a coalition of thirty-two U.S. states to resolve their concerns related to the third-party “VisualDiscovery” software that Lenovo pre-installed on certain consumer laptop products in late 2014 and early 2015. While Lenovo disagrees with allegations contained in these complaints, we are pleased to bring this matter to a close after 2-1/2 years.”

Honestly, it seems a little bit shady that Lenovo kind of just brushed everything aside. Considering they probably made a ton of money from selling the laptops (some people are even estimating the profit to be as much as a billion dollars), three-and-a-half million is nothing. It makes you wonder: how much money did they make from Superfish for letting that company download the spyware?

This is actually one of the main reasons that ordinary consumers prefer Macs and other Apple options: a lot of Windows come pre-installed with random programs. Most of us know this as “bloatware”, but what about the cool hipsters and old people and authors and designers who don’t really need the customizability and freedom of Windows operating systems? For them, it would make sense to choose Macbooks: after all, MacBooks are notorious for being pretty safe. A lot of people are really angry about the news and have expressed their distrust and disappointment in Lenovo. Honestly, I am too!

Anyways, do any of you guys play on a Lenovo laptop? Have you read the news yet? What do you think about this fiasco? Do you think it’s as big of a deal as I’m making out to be? Please tell me your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!


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24 thoughts on “Rin’s Room #25: Lenovo’s Spyware Scandal

  1. b4rnard says:

    News like this is music to the ears of conspiracists. I could almost hear them exclaim, “see, what did we tell ya?”

  2. edg4r32 says:

    I used to covet Lenovo laptops when they first put out gaming laptops within the mid price range. In hindsight, I may have dodged the bullet. Whew!

  3. cutelittlepiglet says:

    Yayks! They are doomed. Why on earth did they allow this to happen? It’s scary to think that they’d have access to your private information. I’m glad I’m not a Lenovo user.

  4. Katkat says:

    This is ridiculous. I’m just really glad I don’t use it. Regardless if someone bought it in between those dates, I’m pretty sure they would still freak out. Just the idea of them having access to your browsing history is already crazy what more for your private information.

  5. Lenovo is really under deep, deep and HOT water. Privacy issues are important and many people will definitely be disappointed of this news.

  6. I think LENOVO should give a concrete explanation for this> If proven then It will be a huge loss for the brand. Thankfully I do not use it.

  7. My Question is how does a hiccup as big as this pass the quality control? For that matter is the issue even confirmed?

  8. kulengs says:

    Well, this is alarming because I have a Lenovo. I may have to check that program in it. Thanks for this.

  9. skydragonwendymarvell says:

    Why does that program even in there? What about the overseas users? Do we have that too? I hope this stops. IT is bad business.

  10. This happens more often than we would like to admit. We probably don’t know it, but maybe every PC company is doing the exact same thing except unlike Lenovo, they didn’t get caught.

  11. Mau says:

    I’m a Lenovo user… good thing it’s an old laptop! It’s odd why that program is pre-installed. Did Lenovo state the reason for having that program?

  12. grayicemake says:

    My mom has a LENOVO android. Thankfully she is not tech savy enough to be on the web. It reduces the chances of having viruses on her Phone.

  13. This is honestly why I prefer Mac than any other brands. Mac may be too expensive but atleast your information are secure.

  14. marchaching says:

    Lenovo sucks. Why would they even do that? I can’t even imagine what I can do to someone who’s spying on my information and activities.

  15. Albeneth says:

    Im glad I do not use Lenovo gadget. I will inform my friends about this issue of the company. Thanks for the post!

  16. This is why I went back to going on Apple iOS. No headache and it runs perfectly well. Only use Windows for back up and when I really need to.

  17. I didn’t have a clue about it before reading this post. I am still in shock.

  18. mchesk16 says:

    Really scary. I wonder what the purpose was behind pre-installing the spyware. What were they were trying to find out? That’s why it’s important to research your laptop make before purchasing it.

  19. wokerful says:

    I wouldn’t want nobody to see my personal information. I used to have a lenovo; fortunately it was older than the dates you give. I´m thinking on getting a lap thiss year, but not a lenovo for sure

  20. unvrso says:

    That’s terrible news. I have a lenovo and I think I bought it in between those dates, I´m not sure. We should be careful when buying electronics

  21. joseph richards says:

    wow that sucks. i normally build my computer from scratch. alot of intel parts are my go to. amd tho for some things(tend to be cheaper like processor,) i may get a mac book next time i need a laptop tho because of this in mind.

  22. darkkvader says:

    I hope we are all more aware on this. We should be careful.

  23. valine13 says:

    Crazy I didnt know that they did that.

  24. charleenmae says:

    Macs and other Apple products are usually more expensive. But yes some consumers prefer it because of its credibility.

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