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Image credit: Guillaume Preat

HP quietly installs system-slowing spyware on its PCs

Customers say the driver is being installed without their permission.
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Lenovo has only just settled a massive $3.5 million fine for preinstalling adware on laptops without users' consent, and now it seems HP is getting in on the stealth installation action, too. According to numerous reports gathered by Computer World, the brand is deploying a telemetry client on customer computers without asking permission.

The software -- first identified on November 15 -- is called "HP Touchpoint Analytics Service" and appears to replace the self-managed HP Touchpoint Manager solution. According to the official productivity description, it features "the tools you need to ensure all your managed devices' security -- and brings you greater peace of mind". The problem is, it's installing itself without permission and is wreaking havoc on customers' systems.

One complaint on the HP support site says: "It's been making my computer work so hard I can hear it like cranking away and the light in the back of my computer is flashing rapidly in-tune with the cranking. In Task Manager I can see it starting and stopping numerous applications."

It's not yet clear how the new driver is being installed. It may have come with the latest Windows updates, or via HP and its support assistant processes, but regardless, customers aren't happy. "I understand that it hoovers all sorts of telemetry data -- and I am not willing to share too much of it really, definitely not without my knowledge," says one user on HP's forums.

The offending driver can be removed relatively quickly and easily, but against a wider backdrop of repeated privacy scandals that's hardly the point. There's no sign of an official response -- or even acknowledgement -- from HP on the matter, but they can be sure their customers will take them to task over it. We reached out to the company for a comment on the issue and will update this post when we hear back.

Update: HP has responded, with the statement below.

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.

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