Microsoft’s privacy practices for Windows 10 have been blasted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The digital rights group has written a damning editorial in which it lambasts the privacy concerns within the Windows 10 Platform. It is a concerning piece for Microsoft because the company has pitched itself as a privacy champion.
EFF employee Amul Kalia disagrees with several of Microsoft’s practices. Straight from the title, “Microsoft Blatantly Disregards User Choice and Privacy” Kalia is unrelentingly critical. The editorial points to Microsoft’s ambitious goal of seating 1 billion Windows 10 software’s before 2018. Kalia says this has led to an overly aggressive approach that removes user choice and compromises privacy.
“The tactics Microsoft employed to get users of earlier versions of Windows to upgrade to Windows 10 went from annoying to downright malicious.”
In June, a disgruntled Windows user created a petition for the EFF to investigate Microsoft. The focus of the investigation would be on the company’s Windows 10 upgrade strategy. It is unclear if the EFF paid attention to that call, but the group has obviously been keeping track regardless.
The editorial points out that Windows 10 “sends an unprecedented amount of usage data back to Microsoft”. This accusation has been levelled at the platform numerous times. Windows 10 is known to send various telemetry user data back to Microsoft. Kalia points to Cortana as being particularly sneaky in this aspect.
“While users can disable some of these settings, it is not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft’s servers,” says Kalia. “A significant issue is the telemetry data the company receives.”
Microsoft has responded to these criticisms before. The company insists that all telemetry data is made anonymous. However the EFF says the company does not say how long it holds the data, which is a concern.
“Microsoft has tried to explain this lack of choice by saying that Windows Update won’t function properly on copies of the operating system with telemetry reporting turned to its lowest level,” asserts Kalia. “Microsoft is claiming that giving ordinary users more privacy by letting them turn telemetry reporting down to its lowest level would risk their security since they would no longer get security updates.”
We are sure this is the kind of scathing attack the Microsoft will not ignore. The company will likely respond to this editorial, even if not directly. It will be interesting to see what the response will be. Let us know in the comments if you think the EFF is correct about Microsoft’s practices.