Windows 10 gets another roasting over privacy shortcomings

Windows 10

The flak aimed at Microsoft over Windows 10's privacy failings has been substantial, and shows no signs of abating yet, with tech privacy rights organization the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) being the latest to put the boot in with a lengthy critical blog post.

The EFF accuses Microsoft of "blatantly disregarding" user choice and privacy, and says that by default, Windows 10 sends an "unprecedented amount of usage data" back to Redmond's servers.

While the organization acknowledges that some users find Cortana – Windows 10's digital assistant, the honing of which is a big part of the reason Microsoft needs a lot of this user data – very useful, there are those who would happily switch it off and not send any data back at all.

The EFF further states that while it's possible to opt out of some of Microsoft's data hoovering, this is "not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft's servers". Indeed, you're forced to share at least some telemetry data with Redmond unless you're running an enterprise version of Windows 10.

More criticism is unloaded on Microsoft in terms of the company failing to explain exactly how it anonymizes the data gathered, or detail exactly how long it's stored for.

Meaningful opt-outs

So what's the solution here? In a nutshell, the EFF reckons that Redmond must implement a full range of easy to understand privacy controls on a single menu.

The blog post stated: "Microsoft should come clean with its user community. The company needs to acknowledge its missteps and offer real, meaningful opt-outs to the users who want them, preferably in a single unified screen."

This, the EFF says, will help Redmond to avoid a potential volley of lawsuits and the wrath of authorities and regulators – like the French watchdog the CNIL which recently hauled the company over the coals due to its collection of "excessive data" from Windows 10 users.

The EFF was also highly critical of Microsoft's tactics to get users to upgrade to its latest desktop operating system, another topic which has been flogged pretty much to death – and indeed has actually passed away in this case, given that the free Windows 10 upgrade offer expired at the end of last month.

Via: The Register

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).