Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Just how badly does Windows 10 spy on you?

It's worse than you think.  So far, people have focused on the aggressive upgrade tricks that Microsoft has used to get users on Windows 10.  But the far more serious concern is the amount of data about you that Windows 10 sends to Microsoft:
Windows 10 sends an unprecedented amount of usage data back to Microsoft, particularly if users opt in to “personalize” the software using the OS assistant called Cortana. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of data sent back: location data, text input, voice input, touch input, webpages you visit, and telemetry data regarding your general usage of your computer, including which programs you run and for how long.
...
And while users can disable some of these settings, it is not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft’s servers. A significant issue is the telemetry data the company receives. While Microsoft insists that it aggregates and anonymizes this data, it hasn’t explained just how it does so. Microsoft also won’t say how long this data is retained, instead providing only general timeframes. Worse yet, unless you’re an enterprise user, no matter what, you have to share at least some of this telemetry data with Microsoft and there’s no way to opt-out of it.
Microsoft has tried to explain this lack of choice by saying that Windows Update won’t function properly on copies of the operating system with telemetry reporting turned to its lowest level. In other words, Microsoft is claiming that giving ordinary users more privacy by letting them turn telemetry reporting down to its lowest level would risk their security since they would no longer get security updates1. (Notably, this is not something many articles about Windows 10 have touched on.)
But this is a false choice that is entirely of Microsoft’s own creation. There’s no good reason why the types of data Microsoft collects at each telemetry level couldn’t be adjusted so that even at the lowest level of telemetry collection, users could still benefit from Windows Update and secure their machines from vulnerabilities, without having to send back things like app usage data or unique IDs like an IMEI number.
Yuck.  Microsoft seems to be combining the worst of Apple with the worst of Google, at least from a privacy and you-can-do-it-any-way-you-like-as-long-as-it's-my-way perspectives.

(via)

8 comments:

matism said...

Why would anyone expect ANYTHING else from the evil empire? Do you REALLY think that Darth Vader helps little old ladies cross the street in his spare time???

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

And don't forget the worst part: Even if you turn all the spyware settings off, Microsoft will quietly turn it back on again when it installs updates.

Old NFO said...

When 7 dies, I'm DONE with Windoze period...

matism said...

The other option, Old NFO, is to do like I do with the Windows XP on my laptop. Default boot is Linux, and when I have to use Windows for my transmission programmer, I make sure it has no way to connect to the internet. I expect to do the same with my desktop when Windows 7 is no longer supported, if I still need to use a video editing program which only works under Bill's Gates.

Reverend Ken said...

Another reason to use linux.

Eric Wilner said...

Running vintage Windows in a VM under Linux works, and you can control its access to the network as appropriate.
I have one-each actual Win7 machine (in the lab, for talking to debugger pods and such), and use VMs (VirtualBox) for other Windows-necessary functions.

Perry Noriega said...

So am I. I am going to install Puppy Linux on my Windows 7 Circa 2011 HP laptop and I am getting into coding and hacking both. This is for self-defense against the Google Microsoft NSA hegemony that seems to know all and dominate all life as Mordor on the Potomac as fully intended to do for some time now.

Perry Noriega said...

So am I. I am going to install Puppy Linux on my Windows 7 Circa 2011 HP laptop and I am getting into coding and hacking both. This is for self-defense against the Google Microsoft NSA hegemony that seems to know all and dominate all life as Mordor on the Potomac as fully intended to do for some time now.