What happens when you rent computer equipment from just any ol’ company and not one that has been a trusted computer rental company in the business for over 20 years? You run the risk of getting spied on, that’s what. And that is what happened with a Wyoming couple who claims that they were spied on by Aaron’s, the rent-to-own company out of Atlanta from whom the couple rented their Dell Inspiron laptop.
In a lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania, Crystal and Brian Byrd claim that Aaron’s showed them a picture of Brian Byrd that had been taken using spying software from DesignWire, which is another company that is involved and mentioned in the lawsuit.
Crystal Byrd told the Wyoming Tribune, “After they showed us the picture, I, of course, felt violated. There are many times I sat in front of that computer with barely anything on. So I didn’t know if they had taken lots of pictures of us or what.” Maybe we don’t need all the details.
Despite that, these accusations are very similar to ones made against a high school in Pennsylvania last year by parents of a 15-year-old student. The accusations in that case ranged from violations of the Fourth Amendment to transgressions against the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, the Computer Fraud Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, the Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act and the Pennsylvania common law. This case ended with the school paying a $610,000 settlement.
The software in the case with the Byrds is known as PC Rental Agent. The DesignerWare web site claims that the software is the “ultimate solution”. In addition to that, the FAG section of the site has a very straightforward answer to the question “Is it legal?” The answer is “Yes”.
The crux of the matter, however, may lie with whether or not the Byrds were aware at all that the software was installed. The FAQ on DesignerWare’s web site advises clients on the subject of whether or not to tell renters. Their answer? “That’s up to you; some rent-to-own dealers like to make their customers aware of it thinking this will help defer them from doing acts that would force them to activate the Agent. Others don’t reveal it.”
Brian Byrd is very passionate about the subject. Byrd says, “I never thought in a million years anybody would do something like that. I read the contract, I read every word of it, and it doesn’t say anything in the contract about it either.”
One burning question you might be asking yourself is why anybody from Aaron’s would show the picture to the Byrds? According to the Byrds, a manager from Aaron’s supposedly turned up at the Byrd’s residence with the picture claiming that the Byrds defaulted on their lease which is untrue according to the Byrds. Brian Byrd believes that the manager “was just trying to…get an easy repossession.”
The Byrds are hoping to turn their claim into a class action but details on what will come of this are still unclear. That is why if you are planning on renting a computer or any other piece of technology, you need to go with a company you can trust, a company like Rentacomputer.com. Rentacomputer.com has been in the computer and technology rental business for over 20 years and they don’t use any kind of software to spy on you. Trust me, they don’t care about what you are doing on the other side of your computer screen.
Source: CNET – PC rental store sued for alleged Webcam spying