back to article Sketchy behavior? Wacom tablet drivers phone home with names, times of every app opened on your computer

FYI: Wacom's official tablet drivers leak to the manufacturer the names of every application opened, and when, on the computers they are connected to. Software engineer Robert Heaton made this discovery after noticing his drawing board's fine-print included a privacy policy that gave Wacom permission to, effectively, snoop on …

  1. cornetman Silver badge

    "I get that Wacom almost certainly just want the data for product development purposes and aren't doing anything overtly evil with it, but that doesn't make it OK for them to grab it."

    Well I don't. That behaviour should be downright criminal.

    1. SundogUK Silver badge

      If they want that information they can bloody well ask for it up front.

      1. iron Silver badge

        They did ask for it up front, they detailed it in their privacy policy.

        1. Bronek Kozicki

          Yup, I am pretty sure that they do ask for it and you can use Wacom drivers etc without ever giving this permission. I do use Wacom tablets for ergonomic reasons since 2007 (or so) and I noticed few years a new "Login" button in the "Wacom Desktop Centre", which I just ignore.

          1. Bronek Kozicki

            Oh, FFS now it is looking like I'm defending this stupidity. I'm not, I am just saying that it appears to me (as someone using Wacom for over decade) that this invigilation is something you need to actively sign up to. Which of course no sane person would do, right?!

            It would be great if the article expanded on this point because it is rather unclear. If that happens irrespective of this sign up (which is strictly optional) then yes, outrage is warranted and GDPR should fine them accordingly. Otherwise ... it is just plain stupid.

            1. Cuddles

              "this invigilation is something you need to actively sign up to"

              That does not appear to be the case - as the article notes, it's enabled by default and will work unless you specifically disable it. The account log-in you're looking at is a separate thing that gives access to cloudy stuff and so on, it has nothing to do with whether they're tracking you or not.

        2. GnuTzu

          "...they detailed it in their privacy policy."

          Ya know, if this was really the way everything was supposed to work, then you'd see this sign at the entrance of every store: "By entering this store, you agree to the terms of service and privacy policy of this store. A copy of these policies can be obtained at the service desk within."

          And, of course, products would also come boxed with this statement contained within: "By opening this box, you agree..." etc.

          We're being sucked in to forfeiting our rights with hidden legalese. This can't go on like this forever.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If they want that information they can bloody well ask for it up front.

        Asking upfront is NOT the policy these days. And it works :(

    2. EVP Silver badge

      But it’s for your own good. Providing the best possible Customer Experience and stuff. No hidden agenda, honestly.

      Next on Wacom customer relations channel: ”We take our customer’s privacy and blah-blah-blah...” You know the rest.

      Welcome to my blacklist, Wacom.

  2. Terry 6 Silver badge


    This is my information about what I do with my device,

    Sneakily letting themselves sign me up to giving them my data is just as much data theft as hacking into my PC.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    utter arseholes!

    this behaviour is why Little Snitch is a must for me… it is staggering how many apps connect to google and a plethora if other tracking services…

  4. IGotOut Silver badge

    Another one...

    for GDPR. If you own one (I have one of the cheaper but equally as good clones) please raise a complaint.

    Only big fines will stop the bastards doing this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another one...

      Watch GDPR come apart after the end of the transition period.

      I doubt any outstanding complaints will be handled seriously by the ICO.

      If they ever were . . . .

      1. Len

        Re: Another one...

        I wouldn't be so sure. Firstly the ICO had a big hand in drafting the GDPR. Secondly, the government has stated multiple times that they intend to keep the GDPR or legally equivalent regulations as it would seriously damage the UK tech sector if data from EU Citizens was no longer allowed to be stored or processed on servers in the UK.

        Now, if the past few years are anything to go by, any assurance from the UK government means exactly the opposite so you may need to be a bit cautious when it comes to government statements. I would, however, be a bit more optimistic about the ICO.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Another one...

          GDPR is likely to be a hinderance to a trade deal with America.

          My expectation is that we will align with America on trade.

          Whether the ICO had a hand in drafting it is an irrelevance.

          Of course businesses need continuity of rules in order to process data on EU citizens (the EU will demand it) but I'm willing to bet they will get the shaft in order to secure an American trade deal. The lobby groups for American tech certainly don't want it.

          I hope the downvoters are right and I'm wrong but I doubt it.

    2. Floydian Slip

      Re: Another one...

      If you can't be uniquely identified than GDPR doesn't apply

      1. Oliver Mayes

        Re: Another one...

        Pretty sure Google tag you with a unique ID when recording the data from your machine.

      2. A random security guy

        Re: Another one...

        If it is your data, then you own it, anonymized or not. Every one all along the way has to ask for permission to use it. And you can withdraw that permission.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wacom drivers on Windows

    A special kind of incompatible hell.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Wacom drivers on Windows

      What? Are they as bad as HP's Printer Drivers? If that is the case then there really is a special place in hell for them.

      See Icon for what I'd like to do to the people in both companies who decided that this was a good thing...

      1. Len

        Re: Wacom drivers on Windows

        I remember the days when HP printer drivers came on two DVDs.

    2. Mage
      Big Brother

      Re: Wacom drivers on Windows

      On Win7 the wrong driver would load. On Linux it just works. Same with external USB Soundblaster.

      Three of us with different Wacom models now moved from Windows to Linux Mint with Mate. Does that mean we can't complain or does the Linux driver do this? :D

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

        Re: Wacom drivers on Windows

        "does the Linux driver do this?"


        "To be clear, we're talking about Wacom's macOS drivers here: the open-source Linux ones aren't affected, though it would seem the Windows counterparts are."

  6. bofh1961

    This isn't even vaguely reasonable

    If it was justifiable then the same functionality would be in the open source drivers. The fact that it isn't tells us everything we need to know about Wacom's attitude to its customers. I doubt they're the only company out there doing this.

    1. mrmond

      Re: This isn't even vaguely reasonable

      Seems to me that if there are open source drivers for Linux, perhaps someone with the right skills, not me, I possess none, might be able to port the driver to windows?

      Perhaps I'm being naive but if it's open source, isn't the source actually available or is it just a binary blob?

      When somethings open source they can't stop anyone modifying and distributing it for any platform can they ?

  7. Stuart 22 Silver badge


    Another one for the blacklist?

    1. The obvious

      Re: Pi-Hole

      They’re feeding google analytics... given that google are the absolute worst bunch of data thieving bastards known to mankind outside of the TLA’s, any pi-hole list worth using should be blackholing them into oblivion already.

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Come one, come all

    This is the problem. Once one bunch are seen to be getting away with it everyone else jumps on the bandwagon.

  9. A random security guy

    Can we file a lawsuit using CCPA in California?

    Apple would be interested in knowing that Wacom is spying on their equipment. Time to test if the CCPA has any teeth.

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