But does it collect your doodles?
February 7, 2020 7:43 PM   Subscribe

A user read through the terms and conditions of his Wacom drawing tablet, and discovered that Wacom collected Google analytics data. He went on a journey to see exactly what that data was. Wacom responds.
posted by aeroboros (26 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Huh. Well, shit. I guess I’m not surprised. Wonder how long that’s been going on. My 18-year-old Intuos 2 stopped working last week, so I’ve had to switch to an intuos 5 and install all the new drivers. Now at least I know that I have to fiddle with some settings and turn that off.
What a pain in the ass. I hate it when stuff that’s worked perfectly fine seemingly forever just randomly stops working, for no discernible reason, and I hate that tracking shit.
Argh.
posted by rp at 8:10 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Oh, the data is going to Google! I feel much safer now. Also, the menu option shown is the Mac version. The PC version is broken enough that it looks like a dark pattern.
posted by user92371 at 9:43 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


This looked pretty reasonable to me: if you find out that application X is used lots and application Y is not, then you focus your tablet on working well with X.
posted by alasdair at 11:50 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


I told my son to clear my schedule. He bashed two wooden blocks together in understanding, encouragement, and sheer admiration.

This is how I feel about this.
posted by chavenet at 1:01 AM on February 8 [7 favorites]


Wacom says all data that is collected is “for quality assurance and development purposes only” and that “all data for Wacom anonymized and unidentifiable.
. . .
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."
So, it looks like Google has all the designs created on Wacom tablets, and knows the IP addresses associated with them. If I had a company with company secrets, this would be a dealbreaker for me. The fact that you can turn this "feature" off is not really comforting, given Windows' proclivity for reversing user preferences to the defaults.


This looked pretty reasonable to me: if you find out that application X is used lots and application Y is not, then you focus your tablet on working well with X.

Reasonable for Wacom; it's not their designs being collected by Google.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:38 AM on February 8 [8 favorites]


Reasonable for Wacom; it's not their designs being collected by Google.

To be pedantic, it's not that designs or drawings are being sent to Google analytics (the collection protocol isn't built for that), just the different apps being used by the tablet user, which honestly would be very useful to know for debugging purposes. They should be forced to show you a very glaring optin that explains the purpose of this data, but they're not stealing your work
posted by dis_integration at 4:50 AM on February 8 [10 favorites]


The linked WACOM privacy policy says you can opt out of Google Analytics ("You can withdraw your consent at any time by opting-out of the use of Google Analytics. The opt-out option is available under / More / Privacy Settings within the Wacom Desktop Center.")

If you remain automatically opted in, then your Wacom usage data goes to Google. There is a link in the Wacom Privacy Policy to the Google Analytics Privacy Policy, but it is broken and redirects. But anyway, the Wacom privacy policy says (in a convoluted way) that the Wacom data is 'anonymized.' But if WACOM are doing things like sending apps/browser settings/time stamps (for example - that's what it looks like in the code snippet, right?) then it may be (well probably is very) easy at the Google end to match this against other data to find out your IP etc.

This is a poorly written privacy policy btw. And Google Analytics (like other 'free' Google 'services') is part of a data scraping platform that generates value for Google (if you are not the product etc.).
posted by carter at 5:50 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


One question still goes unanswered: who the hell is Rick?

But yeah, this is pretty unconscionable and should absolutely be stated upfront. But better yet would be NOT TO COLLECT THE DATA AT ALL.
posted by chrominance at 5:52 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Or to share the financial benefits at least.
posted by Burn_IT at 6:11 AM on February 8


dis_integration: They should be forced to show you a very glaring optin that explains the purpose of this data, but they're not stealing your work

You are far more trusting than I am, Gunga Din.
posted by tzikeh at 6:47 AM on February 8


Reasonable for Wacom; it's not their designs being collected by Google.

Where in the article is it said designs are also collected?
posted by juiceCake at 7:18 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Well, it can certainly record stylus location and pressure, but I doubt that you’d be able to pull any recognizable work from that.
posted by rp at 7:33 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I saw this yesterday on BoingBoing and immediately went to the Wacom Center and changed the settings. That being said, I guess I do understand the perspective that it might be useful for them to know how much of their userbase is using what software, particularly if it's non-Adobe. I'm very lucky to have a Creative Cloud subscription through my job, but otherwise am very disappointed with Adobe's turn to subscription software.

So, where these two points meet is that I've recently discovered that Krita is a much better sketching/drawing/painting software than Photoshop, at least comparing default settings to default settings. So, I can understand where Wacom might benefit to know that I am using Krita as much or more than Creative Cloud with their tablet, so they can improve their driver software accordingly. However, I don't like for that to be some sort of secret they're trying to slip past me.

I wonder if a similar test is being done on the Wacom competitors, like Huion or XP-Pen?
posted by Slothrop at 7:36 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Well, it can certainly record stylus location and pressure, but I doubt that you’d be able to pull any recognizable work from that.

You certainly could. (Whether they do or not, I don't know enough to say.)
posted by eviemath at 7:39 AM on February 8


Well, it can certainly record stylus location and pressure, but I doubt that you’d be able to pull any recognizable work from that.

You could if that data is timestamped. It would be missing fill colors, stroke wrists, etc. but you could recreate a rough sketch.
posted by nathan_teske at 7:57 AM on February 8


My Logitech mouse installed software drivers that included software to record my screen, which I was lucky enough to get warned about by the operating system (Mac) and be able to disable. It's insane what these companies try to get away with — what they are doing — behind our backs.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:35 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Saving all stylus motions would really only work up until the first time the artist planned out zoomed the canvas. Which happens a lot, at least for me. And for pretty much every other digital artist I’ve ever watched recordings of.
posted by egypturnash at 8:53 AM on February 8


Yeah, like the author, I do believe their genuine intention is just to have stats on what applications people use with the Wacom, so they'll know which applications are worth testing on.

But it's also kind of emblematic of something about modern tech, that something you bought as an input device feels entitled to use the internet to phone home. What about the monitor? Speakers? Keyboard?
posted by RobotHero at 9:36 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]


Time to just draw a ton of dicks.
posted by Young Kullervo at 9:52 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


So, where these two points meet is that I've recently discovered that Krita is a much better sketching/drawing/painting software than Photoshop, at least comparing default settings to default settings. So, I can understand where Wacom might benefit to know that I am using Krita as much or more than Creative Cloud with their tablet, so they can improve their driver software accordingly. However, I don't like for that to be some sort of secret they're trying to slip past me.

Could Wacom not politely poll their userbase about what software they use? Other developers/manufacturers do this periodically (often in addition to this same sort of analytics data gathering).
posted by Evstar at 12:35 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Evstar - yep, I think I am in agreement. Wacom probably even thinks now, with the fact that this story seems to have spread around the internet some, that they would have been better off improving their communication with their userbase.
posted by Slothrop at 12:40 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Okay but what does Rick think about it?
posted by RobotHero at 3:14 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


The author of the article very clearly states that what Wacom is doing is logging every application you open, and even provides examples for how this information could be used nefariously. I don't understand why almost half of this discussion is devoted to Wacom "stealing designs" which is not suggested anywhere at all other than jokingly in the title.

This sort of weird conspiracy-mongering actively hurts discussions like this by replacing legitimate fears of actual harm with outlandish fears of imagined harms.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:50 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


So, it looks like Google has all the designs created on Wacom tablets, and knows the IP addresses associated with them. If I had a company with company secrets, this would be a dealbreaker for me. The fact that you can turn this "feature" off is not really comforting, given Windows' proclivity for reversing user preferences to the defaults.

If you have a company with secrets you'd best hire a network administrator that knows how to blackhole/block prying eyes via the company's routers and network configuration otherwise you don't actually have secrets. You just think you do.
posted by srboisvert at 6:51 AM on February 9


Bad news guys. I'm pretty sure that Google tracks every post on Metafilter. Don't be surprised if you see ads for Wacom devices showing up.
posted by notmtwain at 7:10 AM on February 10


A blog post from Wacom (via Tom's Hardware). Snip:

Wacom Experience Program

... from time to time, the data is collected through Google Analytics and sent to Google Analytics’ server, 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 to such IP address data. To learn more about how Google Analytics anonymizes your data, please check this link.


TLDR:

Wacom: We allow Google to collect your IP address. However as Google does not pass your IP address to Wacom, we consider the "Wacom Experience Program" to be anonymous.
posted by carter at 9:37 AM on February 11


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