WTF Toshiba?

IMG_20150419_185722192 Look at the photo to the right. That notice was used as a seal on the plastic bag (which was inside a box) that my recently purchased Toshiba laptop came in. Essentially, the notice says Toshiba has the right to (spy on me) and I should bend over and take it. WTF?

Here is my problem with what Toshiba is doing.

Why am I being forced to allow Toshiba to collect data on me? I get it; it is the age of big data and more data typically means a competitive advantage over your competition. However, there seems to be no way to stop Toshiba from collecting this data short of either

  • Returning the laptop
  • Formatting the laptop to erase all of Toshiba’s preinstalled junk (assuming Toshiba’s data collection mechanism is software and not hardware, which is likely true but I can’t confirm for sure)

Of course, I may be wrong; however, I looked through the settings on my laptop — notably all of the Toshiba-branded software — and tried to Google search it but found no solution to stopping Toshiba’s data collection aside from the two options mentioned above.

In Toshiba’s defense, “anonymous, non-personally identifiable system information” and gathering information on my installed software / drivers (i.e. “searching for updates for your device”) is not exactly Lenovo-level spying. (For those of you that have not been following tech news in the recent past, Lenovo was installing dangerous spyware on their laptops without their customers being told.) But, really, this type of behavior is a terrible way to do business… especially in a highly competitive business that is the computing industry.

I don’t care how anonymous they claim it to be — I want a say in what can be collected and what can’t be when I paid hundreds of dollars for this machine. Now, if the laptop was discounted in exchange for collecting data on me (is free too much to ask?), I might have a different stance on the matter. Until then, piss off Toshiba.

While it is going to be a hassle, I may indeed end up returning this laptop because I don’t have the time to format, reinstall Windows, and try and track down all the proper drivers for this laptop. Well done, Toshiba — you just lost a customer.

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  • Draco2023

    I hate to break it to you, but linux distributions transmit usage data just like everything else.

  • Draco2023

    So replace spyware with more spyware???? LOL!!!!!!

  • jevvv

    Hi Ashraf, is it possible to NOT resend all the tip post links to Twitter at once: just got 35 of them in the last 3 minutes! Some might unfollow because of the spammyness of them all being sent together

  • jj

    I can understand formatting and reinstalling. But don’t worry about installing drivers. Our friend at “Ghacks” wrote about a great free driver installer caller “Snappy Driver Installer”.
    http://www.ghacks.net/2015/04/10/snappy-driver-installer-checks-downloads-and-installs-drivers-on-windows/
    Just follow the instructions given and it will find all the drivers you need for free.
    I updated over 40 drivers and everything worked great.

  • Col. Panek

    So you object to sending anonymous data to Toshiba, but don’t mind the NSA snooping on you?

    Hey, it takes me 15 minutes to install Linux from a flash drive.

  • Charles Lipton

    In your article re laptop computer maker spying, you state Lenovo “was installing dangerous spyware”. Does this mean that Lenovo has stopped this practice?

  • jayesstee

    Hi Ashraf, I vote for “WTF” too!   Also very worrying, is that you had to open the box to take out the bagged Laptop to find these imposed “terms & conditions”.   I refer to the statement included:

    “IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO ACCEPT THESE CONDITIONS, RETURN THE UNOPENED PACKAGE AND ALL OTHER ITEMS INCLUDED WITH THE PRODUCT TO THE PLACE OF PURCHASE AND YOUR MONEY WILL BE REFUNDED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE APPLICABLE RETURN POLICY OF THE VENDOR.”

    In the UK, most Tech products from retail stores are in sealed (Manufacturers) boxes. Most Tech retailers require the seal(s) not to have been broken before they agree to a “changed your mind” return.  Makes for interesting conversations at the “returns desk”!

    Returning items ordered on-line gives the purchaser here in the UK much more protection if they should change there mind.  Another nail in the coffin of the retail stores?

  • rickdonna

    WTF is right. And how about they put that info on the outside of the box. I am sure they would lose a lot more sales! I bet a lot of people don’t bother to read the outside of the plastic bag. Take it back! Even if it is all legit, they are giving you no option to their spying. And if they are sneaky in one area you can bet your booty they don’t stop there!

  • mic

    Thank you for informing us. I won’t be buying anything Toshiba until they’ll give a user choice to opt out from collecting data and automatic updates.
    You should just return it IMO.

  • BearPup

    As I tend to be on the paranoid side, I agree with Ashraf that not being able to opt out is the real issue here. I always opt-out of these innocuous data collection programs simply because I don’t trust that non-personally identifiable information is truly non-identifiable. As to the option of wiping the drive clean and then reinstalling Windows, hell, I do that first thing after getting a new computer / device, just to be on the safe side that no spyware is installed. As I said, I tend to be on the paranoid side.

  • Ashraf

    [@Craig] I wouldn’t say as bad, but still in poor spirit.

  • Craig

    It is Privdog and Superfish all over again. :(

  • Ashraf

    [@iNigger] Except you typically have the option to opt out or have to explicitly opt in — neither of which is present here, aside from returning the laptop. Plus, tracking data on one piece of software is != to tracking my whole computer use, no matter how anonymous it may be.

    [@Mathew] That may just be how I took the photo.

  • Mathew

    Lol, it looks like there might be a typo double gap between “and periodically” too, so they’ve had a good think about what word to insert there. “We better not say daily, let’s just say periodically.”

  • iNigger

    Ashraf are you either drunk or paranoia/used LSD hence you started panicking for something very normal that most developers do? Just read the text again and keep calm, they don’t ‘spy’ on you just check for system performance to keep it updated. I suppose you don’t use Facebook/Google/Yahoo etc. they are the ones invented yo spy on you.

    Hasta la pasta!