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Major laptop maker in trouble for secretly installing software

Major laptop maker in trouble for secretly installing software
© Mikael Damkier | Dreamstime

Earlier this year, we reported about a major computer maker accidentally shipping a number of laptops with a keylogging vulnerability built right into them. Although security researchers said that the keyloggers were not part of an intentionally malicious attack, it still put the users of affected computers at risk.

So how would you feel if a manufacturer mistake like this would have cost you your personal data such as passwords and banking information? In this era of rampant data breaches and identity theft, you have all the right to be upset with the company.

The company we're talking about is HP and the last time we checked, it is still currently one of the top PC makers in the world. Now, HP is under fire again for sneaking in another type of data collection software, but this time, people are claiming that it is intentional.

HP Touchpoint Analytics Service

The questionable software is called "HP Touchpoint Analytics Service" and baffled consumers are reporting that the program was pushed out and installed to their computers without asking for their permission.

According to the program's description, it "harvests telemetry information used by HP Touchpoint's analytical service."

In other words, the program collects information about how a computer is used and it is sent as anonymous data to HP daily. This data can then be used for analytics and diagnostics.

This type of data collection is nothing new, of course, and it can actually help out companies in product improvement and troubleshooting. But these types of data collection are always opt-in and user consent is required.

However, numerous complaints posted on the HP support site are saying that the HP Touchpoint Analytics Service was automatically installed on their computers without their knowledge. Even worse, HP owners are complaining that the program is stealthily running in the background and it's severely affecting their computers' performance.

It's not clear how the new version of this telemetry service was installed but it may have been delivered via Windows updates or HP's Support Assistant.

Due to its stealthy delivery and resource hogging operation, the program is being called outright as spyware, a type of malicious snooping software.

HP's response

HP vehemently denies these claims. Based on their response, HP Touchpoint Analytics Service has always been a part of HP Support Assistant and has always been an opt-in program.

Here is HP's response to the allegations:

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.

HP does admit that the latest update may be causing some performance issues and may not be working properly on some laptops. Could it be that the program has always been on HP computers but its rebranding and recent performance issues are making users notice it more than ever?

How to uninstall HP Touchpoint Analytics Service

If you own an HP laptop and you're creeped out by this service, you can uninstall it. Here's how:

  1. Open a Run dialog box then type appwiz.cpl to open "Programs and Features."
  2. Look for a program called "HP Touchpoint Manager."
  3. Right-click the program then select "Uninstall."

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