Reposted from: Zero Hedge
If Edward Snowden’s patriotic exposure of all things ‘super secret surveillance state’ in America were not enough, Newsweek reports that, as 10s of millions of hungry PC users download the free upgrade, Windows 10 is watching – and logging and sharing – everything users do… and we mean everything.
From the moment an account is created, Microsoft begins watching. The company saves customers’ basic information – name, contact details, passwords, demographic data and credit card specifics – but it also digs a bit deeper… and finding answers is not easy, as one privacy expert exclaimed, “there is no world in which 45 pages of policy documents and opt-out settings split across 13 different Settings screens and an external website constitutes ‘real transparency’.”
From the moment an account is created, Microsoft begins watching. The company saves customers’ basic information – name, contact details, passwords, demographic data and credit card specifics – but it also digs a bit deeper.
Other information Microsoft saves includes Bing search queries and conversations with the new digital personal assistant Cortana; contents of private communications such as email; websites and apps visited (including features accessed and length of time used); and contents of private folders. Furthermore, “your typed and handwritten words are collected,” the Privacy Statement says, which many online observers liken to a keylogger. Microsoft says they collect the information “to provide you a personalized user dictionary, help you type and write on your device with better character recognition, and provide you with text suggestions as you type or write.”
All this information doesn’t necessarily remain with just Microsoft. The company says it uses the data collected for three purposes: to provide and improve its services; to send customers personalized promotions; and to display targeted advertising, which sometimes requires the information be shared with third parties.
Though possibly surprising to some, the company’s data collection practices fit within the industry’s new normal.
Also like its competitors, Microsoft says it will disclose content of private communications or files in saved documents to “respond to valid legal process.” In the company’s latest bi-annual transparency report released in late March, it disclosed that of the 31,002 government requests for information received between June and December 2014, it disclosed content of personal communications in 3.36 percent of cases and non-content data in 73.17 percent.
Microsoft didn’t respond to requests for comment about specifics of the privacy terms, but in a blog post introducing them, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, Horacio Gutierrez, calls the Privacy Statement a “straightforward resource for understanding Microsoft’s commitments for protecting individual privacy.” Alex Meer of the gaming website Rock Paper Shotgun countered, “There is no world in which 45 pages of policy documents and opt-out settings split across 13 different Settings screens and an external website constitutes ‘real transparency’.”
* * *In other words, big brother is very much here… and we invited into our homes for free.
Windows 10 is spying on you, but there’s a way out
If you have installed Windows 10 and agreed to its terms and conditions during installation then you are being spied on and this is not a conspiracy theory but a fact.
Here’s what’s going on and how you can prevent yourself from being spied on.
Microsoft’s new service agreement consists of about 12,000 words, which clearly states that the operating system will be invading your privacy like never before and if you haven’t read that then it’s not your mistake, we hardly read TOS anyway.
So the Microsoft’s new service agreement states that,
“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.”
Microsoft does, however, also gives you an option to opt-out of features that you think may be invading your privacy, but remember if you have installed Windows 10 you have opted-in for all features by default.
How to Stop Windows 10 from Spying on You
If you are reading this section because you are seriously worried about this, understand that opting out of Windows 10 is not so straightforward. However, if you follow each of the mentioned steps thoroughly then you will be able to prevent yourself from Windows 10 spying in no time.
NOTE: These steps will be appropriate in both cases, either you are about to install Windows 10 on your computer, or if you have already installed it without paying extra attention to the installation instructions. Depending on your situation, you might need to perform all of the following.
Here are 4 simple tasks you have to follow to stop Windows 10 from spying on you:
Task # 1: Go to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Privacy’. From there you will have to go through 13 different selection screens, turning everything of your concern to ‘off’. After that, you will find some of the most important setting under ‘General’ section, whereas the other setup screens will let you select whether you want specific Windows apps to access your messages, camera, calendar and other areas.
Task # 2: You might also want to change Cortana’s settings, turning every option to ‘off’. But your selections completely depends on whether you are finding this feature useful or not.
Task # 3: This one is an essential option that you have to turn off. And many are going to miss this one because these settings are only changeable through an external website. So head over to https://choice.microsoft.com/en-gb/opt-out, there you will find two selections i.e. “Personalized ads in this browser” and “Personalised ads wherever I use my Microsoft account”. Turn both of them to ‘off’.
Task # 4: To add another layer of privacy, you might also be interested in removing your Microsoft account from Windows 10, and use some local account instead. Doing this might take away some of the features like Synchronisation across other devices, OneDrive and Windows Store – won’t be a big deal for many! So to remove your Microsoft account, head over to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Accounts’ -> ‘Your Account within Windows 10’, and from there you will be able to remove the account.
Windows 10 will sync data and settings by default with its servers. That includes browser history, currently open web pages, favorites pages, websites, saved apps, Wi-Fi network names and passwords and mobile hotspot passwords.
We also advise you not to activate Cortana, Microsoft’s personal virtual assistant, but if you have already activated it here’s what you’ve allowed it to collect:
- Your device location
- Your email and text messages data
- Your Calendar data
- Apps you are using
- Your contact list
- Who’s calling you
- With who you are in touch more often
- Your alarm settings,
- Your music on device
- What you purchase
- Your search history in case you’re using Bing search engine.
“To enable Cortana to provide personalized experiences and relevant suggestions, Microsoft collects and uses various types of data, such as your device location, data from your calendar, the apps you use, data from your emails and text messages, who you call, your contacts and how often you interact with them on your device.”
This is not it,
“Cortana also learns about you by collecting data about how you use your device and other Microsoft services, such as your music, alarm settings, whether the lock screen is on, what you view and purchase, your browsing and Bing search history, and more.”
Windows 10 can also use you for marketing and advertising purposes as it generates a unique advertising ID for users on every device which can be further used to serve commercial content.
Though Windows 10 comes with default capability of automatically detecting malware on user’s PC, but when it’s collecting personal data as such a level you don’t need a malware.
So Windows 10 is spying on you, do opt-out from all such features you think are privacy invasion for you.
Report typos and corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org