Nvidia’s Latest Driver Package Installs Unwanted Telemetry
Update 11/8/2016: Nvidia reached back to us with and clarified that the newly added telemetric functions are a feature of Geforce Experience. Where error reporting and data was collected occasionally before, it is now collected in real time - which is what the new folder and processes are for.
GeForce Experience collects data to improve the application experience; this includes crash and bug reports as well as system information needed to deliver the correct drivers and optimal settings. NVIDIA does not share any personally identifiable information collected by GeForce Experience outside the company. NVIDIA may share aggregate-level data with select partners, but does not share user-level data. The nature of the information collected has remained consistent since the introduction of GeForce Experience 1.0. The change with GeForce Experience 3.0 is that this error reporting and data collection is now being done in real-time.
[Original Article] Telemetry is probably one of the most controversial sides of software as of late. In an age where privacy is quickly becoming a privilege rather than something taken for granted, it helps for software vendors to be very careful that no toes are trodden on. In a recent discovery by MajorGeeks, it was found that telemetry has been included in the latest driver version of Nvidia and not only are we unsure as to what the purpose of the new code is, but there also doesn’t seem to be any upfront way to opt out of it.
Has Nvidia become the NSA? Probably not; driver telemetry is usually harmless and occasionally useful
There were some reports by users on reddit saying that the log shown by the source is made up/fake so we did a fresh install of the latest driver package and can confirm that the telemetry processes do exist. The changelog doesn't appear to list any newly included telemetric function and the process itself doesn't seem to be doing anything much. From the looks of it, this will report back telemetry in the case of a driver crash or other extreme scenario. Since the telemetry was added after installing the complete driver package, at this point we aren't completely certain whether the Nvidia Geforce drivers are to blame or Geforce Experience is.
The screenshot above shows the telemetry processes included in the new update and here are the steps needed to remove it:
- Download and run Microsoft Autoruns.
- Type nvidia in the filter box.
- You will find Telemetry in the Task Scheduler section and the nVIDIA Wireless Controller, and ShadowPlay services further down under the registry entries.
- Uncheck NvTmMon, NvTmRep and NvTmRepOnLogon to disable telemetry.
- Uncheck Nvidia Wireless Controller Service and NvStreamKms if you don't use Shadow Play and nVIDIA wireless controller.
- If you get an error, close the program and right click on Autoruns.exe or Autoruns64.exe and "Run as Administrator."
All the fearmongering aside, there is usually a pretty good reason for telemetry to be included in a driver suite. Not only does it help the vendor isolate repetitive problems that might occur, but it can allow it to measure their exact client base (which can help direct resources to segments that might not be getting full attention). That said, detailing the inclusion of any telemetry in change log is usually the best practice, as well as giving security conscious users a way to opt-out of it. Because telemetry can usually be used in anti-consumer ways as well. DRM and telemetry are two words that usually go hand in hand, and giving users a way out of this can help ease some of those accusations (not to mention it is in violation of the EULA).
We have reached out to Nvidia for comment and will give you an update as soon as we get one.