Microsoft has been responding to Windows 10 privacy concerns for nearly two years now, and it appears the company has finally got the message and is prepared to act.
Starting today, Microsoft is updating its privacy statement and publishing information about the data it collects as part of Windows 10. “For the first time, we have published a complete list of the diagnostic data collected at the Basic level,” explains Windows chief Terry Myerson in a company blog post.
“We are also providing a detailed summary of the data we collect from users at both Basic and Full levels of diagnostics.” Microsoft is introducing better controls around its Windows 10 data collection levels in the latest Creators Update, which will start rolling out broadly next week. The controls allow users to switch between basic and full levels of data collection. “Our teams have also worked diligently since the Anniversary Update to re-assess what data is strictly necessary at the Basic level to keep Windows 10 devices up to date and secure,” says Myerson. “As a result, we have reduced the number of events collected and reduced, by about half, the volume of data we collect at the Basic level.”
Microsoft is publishing its documents detailing the Windows 10 data collection over at the company’s TechNet site, and it plans to provide more information in the future. “We will also share more information about how we will ensure Windows 10 is compliant with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation,” says Marisa Rogers, Microsoft’s Windows and devices privacy officer.
The real test of Microsoft’s documents will be whether they go far enough to ease concerns over privacy with Windows 10. Last month a number of misleading stories once again claimed Windows 10 has a keylogger built in, and there have been similar unfounded concerns about gaming and ad-supported versions of Solitaire.
All of these concerns have pressured authorities to dig deeper into Microsoft’s practices with Windows 10. France ordered Microsoft to stop tracking Windows 10 users, and European Union data protection watchdogs warned earlier this year that Microsoft’s Windows 10 Creators Update changes don’t go far enough. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also previously accused Microsoft of disregarding user choice and privacy with Windows 10, but it’s not clear if the EFF has changed its stance with the latest Creators Update changes.
Either way, all of these concerns have created an air of uncertainty around Windows 10 and whether it can be trusted not to track users. Microsoft is hoping to finally address that today, but it will be up to regulators and privacy advocates to dig into the documents and decide whether Microsoft has really gone far enough.
For additional, detailed technical descriptions of Basic data items, see Windows 10, version 1703 Basic level diagnostic events and fields. The data covered in this article is grouped into the following categories:
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