Windows 10: Here are the privacy issues you should know about
The new policies take effect on 1 August and there are a few unsettling things nestling in there that you should be thinking about if you’re using the company’s services and software.
The Privacy Statement and Services Agreements combined come to 45 pages. Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, Horacio Gutierrez wrote that they are “straightforward terms and polices that people can clearly understand.” The reality is, you’re probably not going to read them. So I did…
And, like so many other companies, Microsoft has grabbed some very broad powers to collect things you do, say and create while using its software. Your data won’t be staying on your computer, that much is for sure.
Data syncing by default
Sign into Windows with your Microsoft account and the operating system immediately syncs settings and data to the company’s servers. That includes your browser history, favorites and the websites you currently have open as well as saved app, website and mobile hotspot passwords and Wi-Fi network names and passwords.
You can deactivate that by hopping into settings, but I’d argue that it should be opt-in rather than on by default. Many users won’t get round to turning it off, even though they would probably want to.
Cortana is a sexy spy in the machine
Turn on Cortana, the virtual assistant, and you’re also turning on a whole host of data sharing:
To enable Cortana to provide personalized experiences and relevant suggestions, Microsoft collects and uses various types of data, such as your device location, data from your calendar, the apps you use, data from your emails and text messages, who you call, your contacts and how often you interact with them on your device.
Cortana also learns about you by collecting data about how you use your device and other Microsoft services, such as your music, alarm settings, whether the lock screen is on, what you view and purchase, your browse and Bing search history, and more.”
Lots of things can live in those two words “and more.” Also note that because Cortana analyzes speech data, Microsoft collects “your voice input, as well as your name and nickname, your recent calendar events and the names of people in your appointments, and information about your contacts including names and nicknames.”
Realistically, Cortana can’t work in the semi-magical way it does without being able to gobble up all that information. But it’s worth being aware of just how wide-ranging its access to your and your friends’/contacts’ data is.
Whatever happens, Microsoft knows what you’re doing…
The updated terms also state that Microsoft will collect information “from you and your devices, including for example ‘app use data for apps that run on Windows’ and ‘data about the networks you connect to.’”
Advertisers will know exactly who you are
Windows 10 generates a unique advertising ID for each user on each device. That can be used by developers and ad networks to profile you. Again, you can turn this off in settings, but you need to know where to look: