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Lenovo banned from loading bloatware onto its laptops after Superfish scandal

LENOVO WILL NOT be allowed to install any bloatware on its laptops without the consent of its users as part of an agreement with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The Chinese electronics giant found itself in hot water over installing software with a modified version of adware meets spyware, dubbed Superfish, onto the laptops of its US customers from August 2014 onwards.

The spyware-come-bloatware lurked below a user’s notice and kicked in automatically without any permissions. This landed Lenovo in some hot water with the FTC, which slapped it with a $3.5m fine in September, which Lenovo agreed to pay.

In a settlement of the long-running complaint the FTC had levied at Lenovo, the company, which is one of the world’s largest laptop makers, agreed that it would not only not install any bloatware without explicit user permission, but would also open up to third-party auditing for the next 20 or so years.

Basically, Lenovo will be under a good deal of scrutiny for the next two decades.

It will also be required to create a “comprehensive” software security program to protect the data it has collected on customers as well as fix any security risks it identifies on its laptops and the apps they are running through the program, which will be audited by a third-party.

The FTC matter may be over but it looks like Lenovo will feel its effects for some time. But we suppose that serves it right for effectively installing spyware, which also happened to contain a security flaw, on its customer’s laptops.

That being said, Lenovo can still pre-load its machines with bundled software, but before it can be activated a user will need to give clear permissions for the software to be used.

Bloatware is a common issue with many laptops and indeed Android phones which can be a pain in the neck to clear away before you can get cracking with a shiny new piece of tech.

Normally it’s just a nuisance but there have been a handful of cases where it can cause anything from slowdown to posing a nasty security risk.

Ideally, we’d like to see bloatware go the way of the dodo and Windows Phone, but we doubt that’ll happen this year. Sigh. µ

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