Aaron's stores spying on users that rent computers?

Aaron's is a nationwide chain of rental stores that rents things to people on a rent-to-own basis. The company has all sorts of offerings from game consoles to computers and furniture. Apparently, to monitor the computers that they rent out the company is using software called PC Rental Agent, which is a suite designed to monitor rented computers and shut them down if the rent is not paid. The thing that anyone renting from Aaron's is not going to like is that the software allows the store to activate the webcam and take pictures.

This grabbed headlines this week after Crystal and Brian Byrd claim that an Aaron's store manager showed up at their home to repossess a notebook that the couple had rented and purchased from Aaron's due to an accounting error at the store. The Byrd's were able to show the manager a receipt proving they had purchased the computer. However, the manager had already reportedly produced a photo of the couple using the computer as proof that they still had the machine and were using it.

The photo was taken from the computer's webcam. There is no indication of how many photos have been taken of the Byrd family and others that rent the machines from the store. What is known is that at any time Aaron's could have taken photos using the webcam. Those photos could have shown any member of the family naked or otherwise including the couple's 5-year-old boy. The Byrd family notified the police, and an investigation is underway.

[via ArsTechnica]