Hardware data collection

In order to provide the best possible experience, ChromeOS Flex collects hardware data about devices and shares it with Google in order to determine which updates should be delivered. In several additional cases, if you allow it to, it also shares that data with Google for additional purposes like support and improvements to the ChromeOS Flex experience and service.

Unique device identification

Whenever possible, we take measures to protect your privacy, including anonymizing data about your device across our different data sets. Due to the flexible nature of ChromeOS Flex’s hardware support, it is possible for a device’s hardware components to uniquely identify that device, despite these precautions.

While this possibility for unique device identification is uncommon, and our policy is to actively avoid and prevent this type of unique identification, we want you to be aware of the possibility, as it is inherent to ChromeOS Flex compared to ChromeOS.

How to view your hardware data

On a device running ChromeOS Flex, you can log in and visit chrome://system to see, locally on your device, the exact hardware data that might be shared with Google when using ChromeOS Flex. ChromeOS Flex-specific hardware data will be in fields starting with chromeosflex_.

Examples of the device data you’ll see here include the name of your model, CPU, GPU, whether a hardware security chip is present and supported, or how much RAM your device has.

How we use this data

Your hardware data is used for support and overall improvements to ChromeOS and ChromeOS Flex. For example, we might analyze the impact of a bug based on how many devices share a component, prioritize improving support for devices which are used most commonly, or reference individual hardware data to better understand a problem reported via feedback or in a support interaction.

Specific instances where data is, or might be, shared to Google from ChromeOS Flex are:

Using hardware data for update filtering

During ChromeOS Flex updates, your hardware data is analyzed to inform which updates you receive and avoid critical known issues that could impact your device. This data is essential to providing a reliable experience, and therefore you cannot opt out of this particular case of data sharing, even if you opt out of other sharing.

During updates, ChromeOS Flex devices include hardware data when sending requests to update servers. If any known issues with updates impact your device, the result of the update interaction will be adjusted as needed. The data transmitted during update requests is not retained or used by Google for other purposes.

Sharing hardware data for analysis and improvement

In order to understand, in aggregate, the types of devices and hardware that ChromeOS Flex is used on, you can optionally choose to share hardware data to a ChromeOS Flex Hardware Database. When you share this info with us, you help us understand and improve what devices are running ChromeOS Flex, and inform the work we do to support and improve it.

If you choose to share this data, then your hardware data (visible in chrome://system, as described above) is sent to the ChromeOS Flex hardware database and regularly updated. Your device’s unique identity in this data set is not related to other unique identifiers for your device or your user accounts.

You can control whether you want to help improve ChromeOS Flex by sharing device data. For enrolled devices, you can use the Additional hardware data on ChromeOS Flex setting in the Google Admin console to control whether additional hardware data is shared.

On non-enrolled devices, users can choose whether they want to share device data during setup, or later in the Settings menu under Security and Privacy.

Sharing hardware data in feedback reports

As on other versions of ChromeOS, you can choose to send feedback to Google from your ChromeOS Flex device. If you check the box to optionally include system information in your feedback report, the information sent will include hardware information (visible in chrome://system, as described above). Along with other data and logs, this hardware data helps us understand your feedback in the context of your device, and potentially identify relationships between specific components and issue reports.

Sharing hardware data in crash and error reports (coming soon)

As on other versions of ChromeOS, you can choose to send automatic crash and error reports to Google from your ChromeOS Flex device. Many crashes only occur on specific kinds of devices or with certain components, and including this hardware data helps us to debug and test on matching hardware.

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