Microsoft has received great amount of criticism about privacy concerns on their new operating system. Windows 10 constantly shares data and sends feedback to Microsoft servers for software improvement. The forceful implementation of Windows Live ecosystem, for e.g. One Drive cloud also poses a significant risk to user’s data. Even if you disable the data sharing from the settings, Micorsoft still has authority (as mentioned in EULA) to access your Computer, anytime anywhere as long as it is connected to the Internet. I have highlighted a list of invasive techniques Microsoft has adapted on Windows 10.
1. Windows 10 can search and disable pirated content and harware
Windows 10 has built-in functionality (Windows Defender) that can search and disable illegal-pirated games, movies, music and content. It can prevent also prevent illegal hardware from working as stated in End User License Agreement.
Under the Section 7-B of Microsoft services agreement, it makes everything clear.
We may automatically check your version of the software and download software updates or configuration changes, including those that prevent you from accessing the Services, playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorized hardware peripheral devices. – Microsoft
This is a good initiative against piracy but the question arises:
How Microsoft will determine which content is pirated? Which hardware is illegal?
This will cause problems to many users who are using genuine software especially the Steam gaming community.
2. Windows Updates is stealing your Internet Bandwidth
The Windows 10 updates and security option uses your internet bandwidth to share Windows Update patches to PC’s around you. Thus, slowing down your upload speed. You can learn how to turn it off.
3. Microsoft can remotely manage your PC anytime
Windows 10 gives liberty to Microsoft techies to access and modify your data anytime. One redditor reported the Microsoft employee (CSR) remotely restarted his PC over an argument on licensing terms.
4. Windows 10 still sends data to Microsoft even when you disable it.
If you have read the Service agreement, you will see that Microsoft still holds an upper hand when it comes to user data. Win 10 can monitor your devices even though you disable it.
Windows 10 has default access to user’s data through the following:
Your Location, Camera and Microphone – They can check where you live, how you look and what you sound like.
Advertising ID – Windows assigns you an ID which can later be used to serve you ads based on your interest.
Keylogging – Windows 10 records your keystrokes and where you tap on touchscreen, all data is sent to Microsoft servers using a service called Telemetry.
Websites you visit – every URL is sent for monitoring through Smartscreen
Your WiFi passwords – WiFi sense stores your network passwords to your Windows Live account
This was just a short list, even though you can disable some of the data sharing. Still, there are dozens of data mining that is done on background, you will need advanced knowledge of Windows Registry Editor (regedit) to disable them.
5. What users can do about Windows 10 Privacy Concerns?
As for me, I will probably stick to Windows 7, it is slowly becoming the next Windows XP of Operating systems.
For users who are worried about privacy in Windows 10
You can disable most of the data-collection through settings. For in-depth blocking, you will need to use Local Group Policy Editor and Registry editor, you might have to search tutorials for it. Alternatively, you can stick to Windows 7 or get one of the Linux distributions such as Ubuntu.
Such practices are already in place with Google’s Android, Apple iOS devices. But Microsoft has also joined the team and now it is being practiced on a bigger scale. Surely, there are benefits of data-collection, you get your Data synchronized on multiple devices through Cloud services. I am not against this, but I’m worried about how they will handle our data, is it in safe hands?