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Jonathan Nace
Jonathan Nace
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Is Windows 10 a Privacy Problem


You have probably heard about Windows 10 since it was first offered free of charge to consumers who already have Windows 7 or 8.  You may have also heard about questionable privacy practices embedded into Windows 10.  Are they a real concern?  We think so.

CNN pinpoints five concerns that they have with Windows 10:

  1. Shares your personal information with Microsoft by default
  2. Borrows bandwidth from your home Internet connection
  3. Can share your wireless password with your friend’s PC
  4. Will continue to send information to Microsoft after you disable data-sharing settings
  5. Can scan for counterfeit games

Some of these present different levels of concern.  But, the ability of Microsoft to continue sending (and collecting) information after disabling sharing settings seems the most concerning.  As Ars Technica first pointed out, some of this is pretty troublesome.

Windows 10 will periodically send data to a Microsoft server named ssw.live.com. This server seems to be used for OneDrive and some other Microsoft services. Windows 10 seems to transmit information to the server even when OneDrive is disabled and logins are using a local account that isn’t connected to a Microsoft Account. The exact nature of the information being sent isn’t clear—it appears to be referencing telemetry settings—and again, it’s not clear why any data is being sent at all.

As a privacy advocate, the single most important thing when collecting, processing, and sharing personal data is to see that the company is transparent about its practices.  Microsoft has an enormous privacy policy that you can search for all the ways in which Microsoft watches your data.  And the enormity of it alone may be a problem.

While Microsoft may have identified all of its data processing, did it do so transparently?  We think the policy is confusing at this point.  And we are most convinced that disabling sharing-settings doesn’t actually disable sharing.  We’ll investigate these claims as deceptive practices and are interested in any feedback.


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  1. zebojelor says:
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    Where is a lawyer made review of the Windwos 10 EULA?

    Including all the other EULA liked in Windows 10 EULA.

    What are the MS rights to the user privacy and property?

    Why the EULA says “We”, instead of “MS”. What is the difference?

    The Microsoft Services Statement (part of W10 EULA) says that MS gets “woldwide royalty free intellectual property of the user content”, and the EULA states that “we” will grab any file of the user, even the ones in private folders, and even information obtained from third parties.

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    The Privacy Policy referenced in the blog defines much of what MS does with your information, and what kind of information they process. I agree its confusing and cause for concern.

  3. Bill P says:
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    That is why I went back to Windows 8.1 pro. But Microsoft is now sneaking this same spyware into Windows 7 & 8.x. It isn’t about uninstalling the updates, there are a multitude of files& settings to deal with in the task scheduler to shut down the spying. I don’t know if the privacy policy from Windows 10 applies to WIndows 7 & 8.x, yet.

  4. Jon Nace says:
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    Let us know what you find Bill. I’m hoping Microsoft will soon realize some of this goes too far, but we’ll have to keep monitoring all angles right now.