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:
- Shares your personal information with Microsoft by default
- Borrows bandwidth from your home Internet connection
- Can share your wireless password with your friend’s PC
- Will continue to send information to Microsoft after you disable data-sharing settings
- 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.
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.