How much data are your GPU drivers collecting about you? Quite a lot in Intel's case

A pair of Intel Arc Alchemist chips in front of a dark purple background
(Image credit: Intel)

The installer for the latest Intel graphics card 101.4578 beta drivers adds a "Compute Improvement Program" (CIP) data-gathering component that’s automatically selected during installation. 

This CIP gathers data for Intel including "categories of websites visited by users (excluding specific URLs) and how they utilize their computers,” according to a report from TechPowerUP (via VideoCardZ). Intel will also collect information on system hardware specs, regional information, and manufacturers of devices, including those which are close by such as Smart TVs."

The good news is that users can opt out of this data collection by deselecting it during the installation process. However, the process isn’t too straightforward either unlike AMD, which explicitly asks the user whether they want to opt out of data collection. Nvidia, however, enables and installs its Telemetry components by default and users are unable to opt out of it.

Intel did set up a dedicated page for the CIP, which states that it "does not collect your name, email address, phone number, sensitive personal information, or physical location (except for country)." It’s worth a read-through for Intel graphics card owners, as it breaks down what data the CIP collects.

Update: Intel has since responded to TechRadar. According to a statement from Intel: "The Intel Computing Improvement Program (ICIP) uses information about the performance of computers to make product improvements, including through driver updates. The graphics driver installation process asks for user opt-in during the Pre-Install step. 

"If a user agrees to opt-in, the ICIP becomes part of the installation although it may still be unselected using the Customize option. If a user opts out during the Pre-Install step, the ICIP does not become part of the installation. More details about the program and how to opt-out and uninstall are available on the ICIP support page."

How much data is too much? 

Even though Intel is far more open about its data collection than Nvidia, it’s still concerning how much data the manufacturer is collecting with this driver update. In fact, the amount of data is so extensive that it’s faster to list what data Intel isn’t collecting: 

  • Will not include any directly identifying personal information such as name, email address, IP address, or MAC address
  • Will not include the URL (web address) for specific sites visited
  • Will not be used to identify or contact you

And while most of what’s under CIP could be reasoned as necessary to graphics card upkeep, there’s also data that doesn’t seem to serve an immediate purpose like “categories of websites visited by users.” Unless data collection for the sake of marketing purposes counts as reasonable.

Considering that Nvidia, which has by far the largest market share of graphics cards, automatically enables Telemetry components in the driver without any option to opt-out, Intel's approach might appear almost lightweight. Either way, it's clear that your graphics card of any brand may have more access to your data than you expect or want.

Allisa James
Computing Staff Writer

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.