Windows 10 launched earlier this week, and for the most part, has been well received by critics and public alike. Unfortunately, one new feature has left many early adopters rightfully uncomfortable.
Upon upgrading to Windows 10, users are presented with the same type of Privacy Statement that 99% of all customers ignore, but what is written there is enough to make anyone uneasy. The following is an excerpt from that privacy statement:
“We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary.”
The statement continues for some length but is left vague enough to give Microsoft a good deal of flexibility in what it considers “necessary”. Part of this is Microsoft attempting to protect it and users; if laws are blatantly broken or if a Windows 10 system is used to commit a cybercrime, they want the ability to stop or deter it. The privacy statement goes on to include instances of how the procurement of user data will only be used in extreme cases but whatever good faith they have is tarnished when the rest of the Windows Service Agreement and default settings are reviewed.
By default, Windows 10 users are opted into a fully integrated advertising program. When a Windows 10 user signs in with a Microsoft account, settings and data are synced with Microsoft servers. This data upload includes “web browser history, favorites, and websites you have open” as well as, “saved app, website, mobile hotspot and Wi-Fi network names and passwords”. The most troubling thing is that each user is also assigned a unique advertising ID. This ID can be used by Microsoft as well as third party advertising networks to profile and target content to specific users.
While users are automatically opted-in to the advertising features and data monitoring services, the good news is that many can be turned off. The bad news is it won’t be simple. Individual privacy options are spread across 13 different pages of options from the settings menu. The majority of options can be found under your general Settings menu, with additional options for each individual program and application are spread throughout.
The extent of privacy concerns in Windows 10 is extensive and making changes to your personal settings is more complicated than can be covered in one article. If you would like to see more about how to go through those settings and what they actually mean, let us know in the comments below.
– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Webmaster and Lead Designer