Wacom says it’s not spying on its customers, and users can opt out of data collection

Wacom says it’s not spying on its customers, and users can opt out of data collection thumbnail

Wacom has responded to reports of its tablets collecting app usage data from its users and sharing it with Google Analytics, clarifying that the company does not have access to personal data. Earlier this week, software engineer Robert Heaton pointed out that Wacom’s privacy policy let the tablet collect “aggregate usage data, technical session information, and information about [his] hardware device” as well as recording the name of every application that was opened.

In a statement to The Verge, Wacom says all data that is collected is “for quality assurance and development purposes only” and that “all data for Wacom anonymized and unidentifiable. We apologize for any confusion regarding data collection being done by the Wacom software driver and the unclarity about the actual information collected.”

The company further clarified that users can choose to opt out of data collection, which they can do by going to settings in the Wacom Desktop Center —> clicking “More” on the top-right corner —> Privacy Settings —> and selecting “off” in the “Participate Wacom Experience Program” box. Wacom says when a user does participate, information is sent to Google Analytics’ server and not Wacom’s server. “Wacom does not collect MAC addresses and product serial numbers. Although Google Analytics (Apps version) collects IP addresses, we are unable to access such IP address data. To learn more about how Google Analytics anonymizes your data, please check this link,” the statement continues.

As for what kind of app usage the tablets track, Wacom says the software driver collects data on pen tablet models, how customers use its devices, and which software applications are used when tablets are in use. It also tracks apps like the Wacom Desktop Center and Wacom Tablet Properties control panel (Windows) or Wacom Tablet Preferences pane (macOS).

You can opt out in the settings.

Our development and customer care teams could review across all aggregated users of a product, for instance, the most common function settings for pen buttons (e.g. “right click” or “undo”) or the most frequently viewed tabs or selected links in the Wacom apps. We have no access to personal data. We cannot relate to any specific users as the data is anonymized and aggregated. We do not know who users are as individuals and cannot see what users are creating or doing in 3rd party software applications. The data collected in the Wacom Desktop Center, the Wacom Tablet Properties control panel or the Wacom Tablet preferences pane is only related to the pen input, ExpressKey settings and preferences when using Wacom products.

Though there is an option to opt out of the Wacom Experience Program, it ought to be the other way around. An apology and clarification should be just the start; users should be opted out as the default setting, with the option to opt in.

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