‹ Back to the blog listDealing with Windows 10 Surveillance

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Perhaps you've heard some of the controversies about privacy intrusions in Windows 10?...

 

What's yours is ours

According to Microsoft's new privacy policy, by using Windows 10 you grant them the right to copy your files, even in private folders, and pass them on to whomever they see fit.  That's a breathtaking intrusion into your privacy

 

Intrusive Integration

Windows 10 is saturated with invisibly activated connections to Microsoft.  

For example, the nearly seamless integration of OneDrive is accomplished by automatically connecting your device to Microsoft's cloud servers whenever your device is turned on. 

Microsoft's new voice assistant, Cortana, works so well because it can silently connect to and use Bing as a back-end research engine.  And that means it's collecting a lot of data of interest to advertisers. 

Windows 10 will make app recommendations based on what you are using now and how you are using it, including context analysis of the information you enter. 

Of course, all of that is designed to draw more people into the app store to buy apps, or download free ones that are supported by advertising. 

Certainly a lot of this is convenient, but only at the cost of having an operating system that’s constantly watching you.  And listening too…

 

It gets worse

In order for Cortana to respond to voice commands it has to listen to everything that's coming in through your device's microphone.  Everything, all the time, whenever your device is on. 

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Of course, it's waiting to hear its name, 'Cortana', before executing a command, but the fact is it overhears everything around it.  Since Cortana silently connects to the Bing search engine to do back-end research, it's also fully capable of sending everything it hears to any destination it's told.  Put simply, it's capable of being an always-on listening device, an ideal surveillance tool. 

It's become nearly impossible to tell just who is reading or listening to what, or to see the dividing line between your public and private life.  That's wrong.  This shouldn't even be a question. 

 

What can I do?

Ian Paul at PC World wrote a nice guide to disabling most of the privacy intrusion in Windows 10, and you should definitely check it out. 

There's also a good article here on Slate, with much the same advice.

But no amount of turning that stuff off can insulate you from the right Microsoft now reserves to analyze your communications or copy your files.  Only Merlin Earth™ can do that

You should also take a look at the thumbnail images your device has made of your files, and consider joining the Merlin Earth™  community to get ThumbPrints Wiper™, which can destroy them all.

And remember, If you do nothing else to protect your privacy, at least turn off Cortana.

Published on 2016-02-16 by:
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Bob
Head Dreamer

Loves long walks on the beach, horseback riding, and dinners with friends, allies and opponents alike.