Beware of geeks bearing gifts
Although free, Windows 10 comes packed with some concerning new ‘features’.
As Windows 10 is launched and downloaded across the globe by early adopters eager to experience the new operating system, a word of caution is needed.
Microsoft, who are no stranger to privacy issues, have installed some worrying new features as default on Windows 10.
You may recall that in 2013 it was revealed that Microsoft worked closely with the National Security Agency (NSA) to allow them to access encrypted messages in Outlook and Hotmail.
It granted NSA and FBI access to SkyDrive, and after purchasing Skype the company actually tripled the amount of video calls the NSA were recording via the service.
So what are the problems with Windows 10?
Firstly, it will automatically sync with the Microsoft servers and silently pass along and store information about you including; your browser history, favourites and the websites you’re currently viewing.
Mobile hotspot passwords and Wi-Fi network names and passwords are also logged. Cortana, the new personal virtual assistant records and shares everything you do – which allows it to function properly.
The Microsoft privacy statement says:
To enable Cortana to provide personalized experiences and relevant suggestions, Microsoft collects and uses various types of data, such as your device location, data from your calendar, the apps you use, data from your emails and text messages, who you call, your contacts and how often you interact with them on your device.
Cortana also learns about you by collecting data about how you use your device and other Microsoft services, such as your music, alarm settings, whether the lock screen is on, what you view and purchase, your browse and Bing search history, and more.
The company also says it has the right to pass on your information to third parties:
We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process, including from law enforcement or other government agencies… [or] to enforce the terms governing the use of the services.
These settings can be turned off, but that may effect the performance of the operating system – in particular Cortana.