Final Settlement Approved in Case of Harmful Preloaded Ad Software on Lenovo Laptops

VisualDiscovery interfered with browser-website interaction and created serious security vulnerabilities

Final Settlement Approved in Case of Harmful Preloaded Ad Software on Lenovo Laptops
Image: NCCC
January 8, 2018

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has given final approval to a settlement with Lenovo Inc.

The settlement resolves charges that Lenovo harmed consumers by pre-loading software on some laptops that compromised security protections in order to deliver ads to consumers.

Serious Security Vulnerabilities

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.

The FTC charged that VisualDiscovery interfered with how a user's browser interacted with websites and created serious security vulnerabilities.

Consumer Consent Now Required

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 Lenovo preinstalls this type of software going forward, the order requires that it get consumers' affirmative consent before the software runs on their laptops.

Software Security Program

In addition, the company is required to implement a comprehensive software security program for most consumer software preloaded on its laptops. This security program, which is required for 20 years, will also be subject to third-party audits.