Windows 10 Makes Privacy Concessions
Windows 10 has been embroiled in controversy with privacy advocates since the moment it was released in August, 2015. Now, Microsoft is making changes to Win 10 that please privacy advocates overall. But will the changes increase your privacy or make Win 10 even more complicated? Read on…
Improved Privacy in Windows 10?
Terry Mason, who runs Microsoft’s Windows and Devices group, says in in a blog post announcing the changes, “Many of you have asked for more control over your data, a greater understanding of how data is collected, and the benefits this brings for a more personalized experience.”
Ummm, I don’t believe even one Windows 10 user asked for all of that. I certainly don’t need the work of controlling and understanding how my data is collected; I just want the collection stopped.
As for “personalized experience,” every example that I’ve seen has been either creepy or irritating, like those ads that follow you around the Web long after you’ve lost interest in whatever the advertiser thinks you’re interested in. I want to customize Windows to my liking; I do not want Windows trying - and failing, usually - to adapt to me. That’s creepy AND irritating.
Mason goes on to claim that the changes are being made “based upon your feedback.” But if that was the case, Windows 10 would not send ANY data from my PC to Microsoft without asking my permission, every time. I would also have the option to tell Win 10, “Stop asking; just don’t send anything.” That would be simple; but Microsoft doesn’t want it simple. Instead, we’re getting two new complexities.
The first is a Microsoft privacy settings dashboard, a Web-based tool reminiscent of Google’s privacy and personal info Dashboard. The first thing to note is that you must have a Microsoft account to use this tool. “Don’t have a Microsoft account? Create one!” What if I don’t want a Microsoft account?
New Windows 10 Privacy Settings
Yes, Google works exactly the same way. You need a Google account to use its Dashboard. But Google, over the years, has made it very worthwhile to have a Google account. Microsoft just keeps demanding that I get a Microsoft account, and even tries to trick me into creating one during Win 10’s installation by hiding the option to “skip this step” of creating a Microsoft account. To be clear, you don’t need a Microsoft account to use Windows 10.
The second big change that Mason, et. al., are touting is “a new privacy set up experience (in Windows 10), simplifying Diagnostic data levels and further reducing the data collected at the Basic level.” That new experience will arrive sometime this Spring, and it will look a lot like this:
This screen will accompany the Windows 10 Creators Update, a 4 GB package that will introduce many new features. It’s so huge that Microsoft will let users schedule its installation, rather than pushing it silently onto everyone’s device. Four gigs could put a lot of mobile users into the pay-per-megabyte part of their mobile data plans.
The privacy settings screen shown above will replace the “Express Settings” option in current Windows 10 installation routines. That tempting one-click option set all of these privacy and data collection settings to the most liberal (least private) modes available, and made it difficult to change them. Now all of these settings, and more, will be available in Win 10’s Privacy settings section.
Slide them all to the left to turn off as much data collection as possible.
“Telemetry” was a sinister bogey-man to many users. It’s now called Diagnostics, and when set at the Basic level it collects much less data than it did before the Creators Update. For example, Diagnostics no longer includes data on what apps you install and how you use them.
Overall, these privacy gains are welcome. But don’t believe that Microsoft is providing them because you, the consumer, asked for them. The company was facing legal action from the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the governments of France and Switzerland, and other governmental and non-governmental entities.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 31 Jan 2017
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Windows 10 Makes Privacy Concessions (Posted: 31 Jan 2017)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved