NVIDIA Update Forces Users to Share Personal Data to Use Graphics Card Tools


PC graphics card manufacturer Nvidia has delivered an update to their utility software and is forcing users to create mandatory online accounts to use it.

If you want to employ the majority of features in the GeForce Experience, you’ll either need to give NVIDIA access to your Facebook or Google profiles or create an account specific to the application. But why? NVIDIA told The Consumerist:

Users with an account can take advantage of the latest GeForce Experience release features including GameStream pairing, Share technology, and more, as well as random prizes and giveaways. They can also leave feedback directly within the application as well.

But that’s a list of features that only require an active online account because it’s been designed specifically to use one. The real use of the new account system doesn’t require a corporate spokesperson to understand.

The main screen of the GeForce Experience used to be a simple driver update check. In 3.0, it’s now a page covered in news, featured articles, and promotions for NVIDIA partners. On the surface, that’s pretty benign marketing fluff. It’s when you dig a little deeper that things look a little bit off.

While the GeForce Experience FAQ draws a clear line between “identifiable” (read: personal) and “aggregate” information recorded from your computer, it effectively blurs the line into obscurity by subjecting it to NVIDIA’s overall privacy policy.

In the GeForce Experience FAQ, users are told that the identifiable information will stay within NVIDIA, and only anonymous aggregate information will actually be shared with third parties. But since everything is subject to the NVIDIA privacy policy — which specifically states,”We may from time to time share your Personal Information with our business partners, resellers, affiliates, service providers, consulting partners and others in an effort to better serve you” — the distinction is effectively meaningless.

Fortunately, other than targeted ads, there is nothing you can get in the GeForce experience that you can’t get somewhere else. You can update the drivers on your own through the official website, stream using HitBox or Twitch.tv, and external tweaking utilities like NVIDIA Inspector are available from third party sites and services. If you want it all centralized, it’s there, and it’s quite competent. But, if you’d rather not trade your privacy for convenience, alternatives aren’t hard to find.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.