FTC won’t stop Lenovo and others from selling adware-infected hardware

Lenovo Flex 2 15 touch
In a court settlement, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has made it clear that it won’t stop Lenovo and other tech companies from shipping electronics with preinstalled adware. It will enforce a new measure of transparency, however, which will require any companies that do so to make it clear to customers what is being installed and that it needs their consent to continue.

This settlement stems from a 2015 incident in which Lenovo laptops were found to contain a piece of adware called VisualDiscovery, developed by Superfish. The adware would hijack encrypted web sessions to serve adverts and gather user data. While that was problematic in its own right, it also made users vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks.

Although Lenovo has since stopped preinstalling VisualDiscovery, the eventual result of the FTC complaint won’t stop it from doing so in the future. What it will do is force the Chinese manufacturer to submit to audits of its preinstalled software. It will also need to help customers understand in a “clear and conspicuous” manner, so they can opt out of installing any such software. Giving consent for its installation must be easy to do and understandable for “ordinary consumers.”

Lenovo has disagreed with the allegations from the start and denies all wrongdoing as part of the settlement. It also highlighted that it removed VisualDiscovery after “learning of the issues, in early 2015” and announced a policy of reducing the number of third party programs preinstalled on its systems after this incident.

While there are some concerns that the ruling doesn’t prevent Lenovo from requiring installation for full use of its hardware, it does at least mean that everyone who buys from the company will know what they’re getting into. Likewise, Lenovo will find it much harder to install anything nefarious or malicious if its third-party software is subject to audits on occasion too.

Even if the company’s statement doesn’t reflect much wrongdoing in this instance, shortly after the initial incident, the CTO of Lenovo publicly apologized and made it clear that the company had made a mistake. Whether it learns from it now that it’s had its wrist slapped is anyone’s guess.

Product Review

Here's what we think after a weekend with Samsung's giant Galaxy Note 10 Plus

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 Plus is here, and it’s the biggest and best Samsung phone ever. Its key feature is its looks, as it has an attractive rear design, highlighted by the new Aura Glow color, but little else has changed.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
News

Facebook admits it was listening to your private conversations, too

Facebook outsourced contractors to listen in on your audio messenger chats and transcribe them. Contractors were not told why they were listening in or why they were transcribing them. Facebook said it is no longer transcribing audio. 
Home Theater

Look out! 3D TVs could be poised to make a surprising comeback

A new holographic version of 3D that doesn't require glasses and can be seen from any angle might just bring back 3D TV from its near-death experience -- but we'll have to wait a few years to see it.
Computing

Keep your laptop battery in tip-top condition with these handy tips

Learn how to care for your laptop's battery, how it works, and what you can do to make sure yours last for years and retains its charge. Check out our handy guide for valuable tips, no matter what type of laptop you have.
Deals

Now’s your chance to get the latest iPad Pro for $100 less on Amazon

The latest iPad Pro has always been our favorite since its release last year, and we even tagged it as the best tablet ever. Don’t miss out on Amazon’s discount on the 12-inch 256GB Wi-Fi model and get yours today for $1,049.
Computing

1.5% of Chrome users’ passwords are known to be compromised, according to Google

In February, a new feature was introduced to the Google Chrome browser which checks whether users' passwords are secure. Now, Google has released eye-opening stats gathered from Password Checkup.
Computing

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for August 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work, we have you covered. We've put together a list of the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Deals

Amazon cuts $52 off this Samsung Galaxy 10.1-inch tablet for the whole family

Normally priced at $330, you can grab the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1-inch 128GB Wi-Fi tablet now for only $278 and enjoy $52 savings. On top of that, Amazon is offering an extra $28 discount when you apply for a coupon during checkout.
Computing

Tired of choosing between Windows and Mac? Check out these Chromebooks instead

We've compiled a list of the best Chromebooks -- laptops that combine great battery life, comfortable keyboards, and the performance it takes to run Google's lightweight Chrome OS. From Samsung to Acer, these are the Chromebooks that really…
Computing

Tired of your Mac freezing? Try these tips to fix your Mac

A Mac that keeps freezing can be an incredibly annoying thing to deal with, but fixing it doesn’t have to be a pain. There are six main things you should try, which we got through in this guide to help you fix the issue once and for all.
Computing

Here's our guide to how to charge your laptop using a USB-C cable

Charging via USB-C is a great way to power up your laptop. It only takes one cable and you can use the same one for data as well as power -- perfect for new devices with limited port options.
Computing

Latest Windows 10 update is causing random reboots and can break Visual Basic

The latest update for Windows 10, made available on Tuesday this week, includes patches against two critical vulnerabilities. But it is causing a string of issues including random reboots and failure to install.
Computing

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.