The EFF Calls Out Microsoft's Ongoing Bullshit On Windows 10 Privacy Concerns
from the talking-out-of-both-sides-of-your-mouth dept
While Windows 10 is generally well-liked by reviewers and users, it’s relatively clear that it’s not the OS to choose if you actually want to control how much babbling your OS does over the network. While a lot of complaints about Windows 10 have been proven to be hyperbole or just plain wrong (like it delivers your BitTorrent behavior to Hollywood or it makes use of menacing keyloggers), Windows 10 is annoyingly chatty, sending numerous reports back to Microsoft even when the operating system is configured to be as quiet and private as possible.
While Microsoft has been criticized for this behavior for some time now, the general response out of Redmond has been to tap dance over, under and around most of the key complaints.
Enter the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which last week effectively called on Microsoft to stop bullshitting everybody in terms of what gets collected and why. The EFF does a good job reiterating how Microsoft used malware-esque tactics to get users to upgrade, then once installed, Windows 10 collects user location data, text input, voice input, touch input, web browsing history, and general computing telemetry data, including which programs you run and for how long — which would be arguably less of an issue if you had full control over how much of this data was collected and funneled back to the Redmond mothership.
Microsoft has made some modest changes to address ballooning concern about user privacy over the last year, but the EFF notes that the company continues to tap dance around how much data is collected, what the company is doing with it, and why users can’t have full privacy control over an OS they purportedly own:
A significant issue is the telemetry data the company receives. While Microsoft insists that it aggregates and anonymizes this data, it hasn?t explained just how it does so. Microsoft also won?t say how long this data is retained, instead providing only general timeframes. Worse yet, unless you?re an enterprise user, no matter what, you have to share at least some of this telemetry data with Microsoft and there?s no way to opt-out of it.
Microsoft has tried to argue that Windows Update won’t work if telemetry reporting is minimized and user privacy and preferences are actually protected. In short, Microsoft has tried to claim that giving users broader control puts the user at risk by hamstringing security updates. That’s something the EFF is quick to call bullshit on, calling it a “false choice” that’s “entirely of Microsoft’s own creation.” What Microsoft should do if it truly values its customers, the EFF argues, is dramatically ramp up company transparency and finally offer a meaningful, simple opt-out functionality:
Microsoft should come clean with its user community. The company needs to acknowledge its missteps and offer real, meaningful opt-outs to the users who want them, preferably in a single unified screen. It also needs to be straightforward in separating security updates from operating system upgrades going forward, and not try to bypass user choice and privacy expectations.
In response to the EFF, Microsoft has continued to do what it has always done: pretending that nothing is wrong, customer control and privacy are the company’s highest priorities, and these privacy concerns are overblown because, shucks, most people really like the OS:
Microsoft is committed to customer privacy and ensuring that customers have the information and tools they need to make informed decisions. We listened to feedback from our customers and evolved our approach to the upgrade process. Windows 10 continues to have the highest satisfaction of any version of Windows.
Granted that may say more about past interactions of Windows than of Windows 10. Even then, because people generally like the core OS experience Windows 10 offers doesn’t magically dismantle concerns that Microsoft still, more than a year after launch, isn’t actually listening to its customers when it comes to privacy and control.