It was reported yesterday on a brewing controversy regarding a new application on HP’s laptops called HP Touchpoint Analytics Service which users were complaining were collecting their data without permission and sapping the resources of their PC.
At the time HP had not yet responded to request for statements, but the company has now spoken to Laptop Magazine and has vociferously denied the allegations.
“We absolutely take privacy super seriously,” said HP VP of Customer Experience Mike Nash.
Nash noted the service was not new, and that it is only designed to collect hardware performance data for which HP asked permission on the initial setup of your PC.
While the data is collected on your local hard drive, they are only uploaded to HP if there was an actual support incident, and then only with the user’s permission.
Nash also denied that the app consumed significant resources, saying it underwent intensive performance testing to make sure that it doesn’t have a negative impact on the user experience.
In their official statement HP said:
HP Touchpoint Analytics is a service we have offered since 2014 as part of HP Support Assistant. It anonymously collects diagnostic information about hardware performance. No data is shared with HP unless access is expressly granted. Customers can opt-out or uninstall the service at any time.
HP Touchpoint Analytics was recently updated and there were no changes to privacy settings as part of this update. We take customer privacy very seriously and act in accordance with a strict policy, available here.
The app (HP Touchpoint Analytics Client) can also be easily uninstalled in the Apps & Features section of Windows 10.
HP does note that if a user at setup chooses to share performance data with the company they can use it to monitor the fleet performance of a range of laptops and if they notice consistent issues may release a driver update to correct the issue.
Laptop Magazine looked rather closely at the various logs the app leaves behind and did not find it suspicious, making it somewhat of a storm in a teacup.
Ultimately, however, the brouhaha is a symptom of users feeling less and less in control of their hardware, something which has resulted in Microsoft having to tweak their privacy disclosures repeatedly to make sure users actually know what they are consenting to.
Despite the current issue being a false alarm, a high level of vigilance will ensure companies do not overstep the line for fear of being caught up in the backlash, and will hopefully result in them proactively keeping users informed, instead of apologizing after being caught out.