Windows 10 Launches With a Bang and a Few Privacy Issues

Microsoft has finally launched the newest iteration of its operating system, Windows 10, and the reception has been largely positive. But as with most new things, a little change comes along with it. So, with the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft also saw fit to update their Privacy Policy and Service Agreement with a few modifications that users might find a bit worrisome.

Data Syncing

As soon as a user signs into Windows, the operating system begins syncing data to Microsoft’s servers. Most users might not think this is a big deal, and many people knowingly allow their data to be access by companies all the time. The issue is that Microsoft automatically opts all users in without giving them a choice before doing so.

The data being stored on Microsoft’s servers include browser history, favorites, passwords (even website and Wi-Fi passwords), apps currently opened, and more.

Advertising Profiles

Microsoft isn’t using Windows 10 to collect and store user data on its servers just for the heck of it. Signing into Windows 10 also generates an advertising ID unique to each user. This identifier is a way for Microsoft to allow developers and advertisers to build a profile about users in order to tailor advertisements for specific users. This can easily be turned off in the settings, but again, this is another option that should be opt-in rather than opt-out.

Cortana: Friend or Foe?

Cortana, Microsoft's virtual assistant.

While some of these concerns were known about prior, the amount of data Cortana, Microsoft’s Windows 10 equivalent to Apple’s Siri, can accumulate and share about a user is certainly surprising. Fortunately, Cortana is an opt-in feature, and the disclaimer text fully discloses the software’s intention of collecting data ranging from voice input to communication data all upfront.

This issue is more ambiguous than the others because a virtual assistant can’t operate without these details. Cortana needs to be able to have access to this information in order to provide contextual answers to user queries.

Microsoft Owns Your Data

Most of these privacy concerns boil down to the fact that a user is essentially signing their data over to Microsoft.

“We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to protect our customers or enforce the terms governing the use of the services.”

That last bit of text, in tandem with the extensive amount of data Cortana can collect, is a bit worrisome, however. Microsoft certainly isn’t the only company who wants users to sign over all of their data, but consumers have a right to know what these companies plan to do with the data once they have it.

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