Microsoft 0, EU 1, Users 10

Microsoft has been, ever since Windows 10 was released, on a race to collect more and more data on how you as a user do things.  While users have complained, Microsoft remained steadfast and not only did not change its habits, but also remained pretty quiet as to what data they were collecting.

Then the E.U.’s Working Party 29 (WP29) came along.  Last year the E.U. started investigating Microsoft’s privacy practices.  The E.U. has a different perspective on privacy than the U.S. does.

In fact, in the E.U., come next year when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect, a company can be fined up to 4 percent of the annual global turnover (revenue).

Apparently, Microsoft decided that this was not a game of chicken that it wanted to play and so they folded.

So, what did they do?

First, they added a privacy section to each user’s web account (https://account.microsoft.com/privacy ) that  allows a user to see his or her browsing history, search history, location history and Cortana history, among other data.

Then they added a new privacy panel in the Windows 10 release that is going out next week (called Creators Update).

Here is a screen shot of the new panel:

Next, they updated the privacy statement on their web site at https://privacy.microsoft.com .

While all of this is interesting, what is the most interesting is that they finally outlined what data on you and me they are collecting in Windows 10.

They posted two Wiki pages detailing the information that they are collecting.   The two pages represent two different data collection options that a user has, basic or full.

This is, by far, the most information that Microsoft has published to date on Windows 10 data collection practices.

While you cannot turn off all of the collection activities, at least we now know what data is being collected.  I am sure that researchers and reporters will be combing over this data in the days and weeks ahead to give us a better view of what this means.

A few of the data types they are collecting include:

  • OS name, version, build, and locale
    User ID
    Xbox UserID
    Device properties
    Device capabilities
    Device preferences and settings
    Device peripherals
    Device network info
    App usage
    App or product state
    Login properties
    Device health and crash data
    Device performance and reliability data
    Installed applications and install history
    Device update information
    Content consumption data (movies, TV, reading, photos)
    Microsoft browser data
    Information about local search activity
    Voice, inking, and typing
    ​​​​​​​Licensing and purchase data

And just think. All it took was the threat of WP29 fining Microsoft up to $4 billion.  I guess, even to Microsoft, $4 billion is a lot.

Information for this post came from the Bleeping Computer.

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