Report: Lenovo Computers Secretly Monitor User Behavior in Windows

by Tracy Knauer •

Lenovo computers are a bad choice if you’re worried about protecting your privacy, especially as the Windows 10 era dawns. That’s according to a report that Lenovo computers come preinstalled with software that uploads data about user behavior to the company.

The discovery was reported by Michael Horowitz, who noted that his Lenovo machine runs a program called Lenovo Customer Feedback Program 64 on a recurring basis. Information about the program that is available through the operating system indicates that it “uploads Customer Feedback Program data to Lenovo.”

Digging deeper, Horowitz also reported that at least part of the data collected by the program appears to be associated with Omniture, an online marketing company.

Licenses included with the Lenovo software indicate that users can disable it using “Settings,” but do not explain where those settings are located. Horowitz wrote that the only way he found to disable the program on his computer was to reconfigure Windows so that the software was not run on a recurring basis.

A statement on Lenovo’s website mentions that the company may use software to “collect non-personally identifiable statistical usage data that is not tracked to any single customer or device.” It also says something vague about using such information “in preparation for Windows 10.” However, more specific or detailed information about what exactly Lenovo installs on users’ computers to collect information about them, or what the company does with the information, is not available.

It came to light earlier in 2015 that Lenovo preinstalled software on its computers called Superfish that posed security problems, and that the company modified BIOS software (the hard-wired code that gets your computer up and running when you first turn it on) so that users could not remove special Lenovo programs from their computers even if they reinstalled Windows.

Taken together, this recent history of privacy issues in Lenovo machines is a reminder of why proprietary code that no one can inspect is dangerous for privacy. It also shows how companies can bake monitoring software into the computers people buy with little disclosure.

If you’re really interested in privacy, we suggest relying on a fully open source platform, like Linux-based Tails OS.

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