Microsoft Corp. may have gained some approval for making its Windows 10 upgrade free for some time to some of its users, but it’s not without a catch. Microsoft wants one billion devices to be running Windows 10 by the end of 2018. It would have been a noble goal to accomplish if Microsoft has not pushed users to upgrade when they didn’t want to. Many users were not too happy about constantly being nagged to update to the new version of Windows and resorted to disabling critical updates.
Despite getting a lot of heat for the forceful software update and even being sued because of it, Microsoft doesn’t seem to be bothered at how pissed of some of its users are.
In a scathing editorial, Amul Kalia of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit organization that is out to protect the rights of people in the digital realm, called Microsoft for its blatantly disregarding user choice and privacy in the said OS.
According to the post, Windows 10 sends huge amounts of data back to Microsoft especially when the use of its virtual assistant, Cortana, is enabled. The post states that information such as location data, text input, voice input, touch input, web pages visited, telemetry data regarding the general usage of the computer, including which programs run and for how long, are sent back to Microsoft. The short of it is Microsoft keeps track of all the activities happening on a computer or device running Windows 10.
Though users can disable some features to stop Windows 10 from sending information back to Microsoft, it has been proven that Windows 10 continues to send information, which defeats the whole point of disabling features.
Other concerns regarding data gathering includes what happens to the data once collected, where the data is stored, how long the data is stored, and how data is anonymized for user protection. Other concerns include what happens to the system when some features are disabled or turned down to the lowest setting. The article states that when telemetry is turned down to the lowest setting, the computer may be at risk for attacks as it will no longer receive security updates.
This, according to EFF, gives users a false choice. It’s like Microsoft is saying, “Yes, you can disable some features, BUT don’t blame us if you get a virus or not everything is functioning properly.” The EFF is calling on Microsoft to fix this problem and care more about its users.
“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,” Kalia wrote.
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