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Sears, Kmart community software called 'badware'

Despite changes to its site, My SHC Community remains on the StopBadware list.

Robert Vamosi Former Editor
As CNET's former resident security expert, Robert Vamosi has been interviewed on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets to share his knowledge about the latest online threats and to offer advice on personal and corporate security.
Robert Vamosi

StopBadware.org said Tuesday it has labeled the Sears and Kmart community software known as My SHC Community as "badware," or spyware.

The nonprofit organization run by Harvard Law School, Oxford University, and Consumer Reports WebWatch said it cited the Sears Holding Corporation community in particular "because of inadequate disclosure of extensive tracking and data collection and because the application does not identify itself while running."

In response to several accusations that it collects personal information without proper disclosure, My SHC Community has dramatically revised its Web site since last week. It has, among other changes, added a prominent link to its privacy policy.

At issue is the installation of tracking software from ComScore, an online data marketing firm. ComScore has maintained over the years that its data collection methods do not qualify as spyware. However, several leading antispyware researchers disagree.

In a statement (PDF), StopBadware.org said: "Sears Holding Corporation (SHC) has informed StopBadware that SHC is significantly improving the My SHC Community application disclosure and privacy policy language and adding a Start menu icon in an effort to comply with our guidelines and address privacy concerns. They expect these changes to be implemented within 48 hours."

However, late Tuesday, StopBadware.org said it has not changed its designation of SHC Community. "We have not evaluated these planned changes at this time. SHC has also informed us that they have suspended invitations to new users to install the application until these changes are implemented."