There are several problems with privacy in Windows 10 and one is that so much information is collected and passed back to Microsoft. Another is that although there are controls to limit the information revealed about you, these are buried in the operating system settings.
Most people when installing Windows 10 will not realise what they are agreeing to. The setup program that has been used up until now does not reveal any of the privacy settings and it just sets the defaults that Microsoft wants. This is pretty much everything that is available, such as
Even just listing all the data that Microsoft collects would fill this page. Read the full description of Feedback, diagnostics, and privacy in Windows 10. Here is just one tiny part of that:
“...which apps you use most often, how long you use certain features or apps, how often you use Windows Help and Support, and which services you use to sign in to apps.”
“...diagnostic data including the memory state of your device when a system or app crash occurs (which may unintentionally include parts of a document you were using when a problem occurred). “
Go to Settings, Privacy, Feedback & diagnostics in Windows 10 and there are currently three settings for Diagnostic and usage data: Basic, Enhanced and Full. In the Windows 10 Creator’s Update in 2017, this will be reduced to two: Basic and Full.
When upgrading to Windows 10 or installing it for the first time, the privacy settings will be made clear and you will have the option to configure them to suit you, rather than the default settings being applied without asking.
Here’s what the new privacy setup will look like (this may change).
This is a welcome change and is a great help for those concerned about privacy in Windows 10.
Affiliate link: One of the best ways to ensure your privacy when using the internet is with a VPN - VirtualPrivate Network. NordVPN is recommended.
The new Privacy Dashboard
You don’t have to wait for the Creator’s Update to increase your privacy in Windows 10 and Microsoft has introduced a new privacy dashboard. You can use it right now. Go to account.microsoft.com/privacy and log in if necessary. It has a number of sections:
Browsing history: Your browsing history in Edge is sent to Microsoft and there is a button to view and clear your browsing history.
Search history: Bing and Cortana use your search history to personalise results and autosuggest. There is a link to view and change your search settings and view and clear your search history.
Location activity: Windows tracks your location in order to give you directions to places you might want to go. There is a button to view and clear location activity.
Cortana’s notebook: Cortana tracks you interests, contacts, calendar and other personal information so it can provide information and suggestions, and perform tasks. There’s a button to edit Cortana data.
Health activity: Microsoft Health and HealthVault is used with devices like Microsoft Band - a fitness tracker - and it collects information about you. There is a link to manage your HealthVault account and you can edit data on Microsoft Health.
Should you be worried about privacy?
All this information collection and analysis makes your computer and Cortana smarter. Turn off off the features and it becomes a lot dumber.
The question is, do you want your computer to be smart or dumb? If you want it to be smart, then it has to monitor and collect information. You may be losing a bit of privacy, but you are gaining a lot of useful features.
I think the trade is worth it, but you may disagree. What are your thoughts on this? Leave a comment below.