Since Windows 10 was released, much has been said about the privacy concerns that come with it. Admittedly, some of the concerns have been exaggerated but there is no doubt that Windows 10 collects much more data about you than any other Windows version before it.
One of the concerns relates to ‘Cortana’ the “personal assistant”. Like Apple’s ‘Siri’, ‘Cortana’ collects personal information such as calendar, contacts, location, alarm settings, what websites you view, emails, and more. When you add it all up, there is quite a lot of information about you.
Why are they collecting this much information?
They say that it is to “better serve you”, such as being able to suggest a restaurant nearby, but ultimately it is also advertising data collection. Each account with an email is given an Advertising ID and a profile is created that is shared with Microsoft partner advert networks.
Similarly, OneDrive the online storage service, synchs every time you switch on and gets updates of your internet browsing and wifi details. Even your location is noted by the operating system and the information is passed to “trusted” third parties.
Everyone thinks differently about their privacy – one person may feel that ‘Cortana’ being able to suggest a local restaurant is good enough reason for so much data collection, but another person may feel it’s a little too much.
To be fair, it’s not just Windows 10 though – ‘Siri’ keeps voice recordings for much longer than you would think as back in 2013 Apple announced that they were keeping your ‘Siri’ voice recordings for two years. The digital age has its drawbacks.
What can you do about more control over your privacy?
Go to Start Menu > Settings and open the Privacy section, to look carefully at all the settings that can be switched on or off – there are quite a few of them and some settings may be useful to you, others not so much.
Also, you can still have a local account on your Windows 10 computer rather than one controlled by your email address, which controls the automatic synching of your information.
Microsoft have now taken the privacy concerns seriously and in the so-called ‘Creators Update’ for Windows 10 that is due in the first half of 2017, the privacy settings will be much clearer, simpler and transparent, including a new privacy dashboard which will be where you can have much more control over your information, all in one place.
In the meantime, there’s no need to be looking over your shoulder for big brother, but you do need to at least be aware that a lot of information is collected about you and what you do every day with your computer.