A Follow Up To My Parallels Desktop Privacy Story

Between the time I wrote this story on some potential privacy related concerns with Parallels Desktop 9 and now, I’ve had the chance to experiment a bit. The first thing that I experimented with was the fact that Parallels Desktop 9 puts my iCloud folder along with accessing Dropbox without me telling it to. I’ve found two things out since I first wrote this story. This feature is on by default. The option in question can by found by following the instructions in this note from the Parallels knowledge base. The second thing is that it looks like it inherits Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud from what’s on my Mac. I figured that out by removing Dropbox from my Mac along with unlinking the computer in the Dropbox software and starting a virtual machine. When I did that, it was not in the virtual machine. Now that does make me feel better because (a) Parallels already does this to a degree with volumes that the Mac has access to and (b) no user information such as usernames and passwords are being used to do this. Still, it would have been nice if this was not on by default and you were asked if you wanted this feature enabled. But be that as it may, I am comfortable enough with this to give Parallels a pass on this.

What I will not give Parallels a pass on is the fact that they appear to be collecting info on me via a opt out method. Meaning that unless you opt out, they can do what they want. Now, Parallels does have a privacy policy that’s online and there’s a link to it in the software. Here’s one thing that caught my eye:

If you choose to participate, we will be automatically collecting information about your hardware configuration and the way you use Parallels products. We will not collect any personal data, like your name, address, phone number, or keyboard input.

The program is voluntary and aims at making Parallels products better fit your needs.

That’s fine. Except that I never chose to participate. This option was on by default and I make a rule of never participating in these programs. Thus if I am every asked if I want to participate (which by the way is something that previous versions of Parallels did), I would say no. And I know that I said no when I installed version 9. Now I don’t know if this was just a glitch or if there’s something more sinister going on here. But I know that I am not a fan. As I type this, I have not heard back from the company and I would really like to as I’d like them to explain this. However if I do, I will update this story.

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