Microsoft’s New Windows 10 Privacy Changes May be EU-motivated, But They Work

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In an attempt to fight against growing concerns about user privacy, Microsoft’s  and  did a blog piece on three new changes that Windows 10 Creators Update will see.

The first is an improvement on in-product privacy information, which means you will soon see more information pertaining to the data that Microsoft collects about its users. Each privacy setting will have a Learn more button where users can get into the specifics of what data is collected and so on.

The second change is to their privacy statement itself. Microsoft intends to continue sharing privacy statement updates in a “layered manner” that gives the user more visibility, transparency and, more importantly, control over their privacy choices.

The third change is Microsoft’s commitment to providing even more information about user data that’s collected. From the Basic Level, which ensures that your Windows 10 device is up to date and secure, to the Full Level, which helps Microsoft aggregate diagnostics data, the company is going the extra mile to give the user more information and, thereby, more transparency.

If you look a little deeper into the changes, you’ll notice that Microsoft is aiming for three things: more privacy control in the hands of the user, more information about collected data and consistent structuring of that information so users aren’t confused about where to go for privacy information relevant to specific products.

For example, the improved in-product privacy information will tell you what you’re opting into and what the limitations of data collection are from the company’s perspective. And it puts that information right into the product, not on some standalone webpage that you have to hunt down and find.

As warm and fuzzy as all that sounds, the specific feedback that led to these changes is from “the European Union’s Article 29 Working Party and national data protection authorities that have specifically engaged us on Windows 10.”

The European Union has been nagging tech companies about their privacy policies, the kind of data they collect, the information they provide users with and so on. This is Microsoft’s contribution towards placating EU authorities, and it gives a lot more control to users.

In our opinion, there’s still a long way to go. But don’t think I’m referring only to what Microsoft needs to do. I’m talking about users as well. It’s unfortunate to have to say this, but users of technology can be extremely unfair and unreasonable when it comes to matters of privacy – dare I say even bordering on paranoia at times.

Users need to understand that technology cannot be fully integrated into their lives without a large amount of give and take. Companies like Microsoft are beyond selling your data to unscrupulous third-party advertisers for a quick buck. They need that information to give you a seamless experience when you’re using their products. Read this loud and clear: That seamless experience is what users are always clamouring for.

I’ll give you an example. A lot of people say that Siri is pretty dumb because she can’t answer questions like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa can. One of the biggest reasons for that is the fact that Apple is even more paranoid about user privacy than most users of Apple devices! That’s why they have checks and measures at every data collection point.

Do you really think that Siri can’t figure out that your favorite color is blue when your iPhone theme is primarily blue, your MacBook Pro background is primarily blue and you’ve referenced the color blue more often than any other color in your iMessage texts? The real reason is that she is limited by what Apple says she can and cannot be privy to – or use, to be precise.

At the other end of the spectrum, there’s possibly Google Assistant, which knows everything from where you live to how many friends you have to what time you get home every night and tons of other data. GA won’t really tell you that, but it’s irrational to think that it does not have access to any of that information.

Different companies use data differently, but all of them take user data to improve their products – some more than others.

What we, as users, need to understand is that by engaging with technology, we have to give a part of ourselves in exchange for that “seamless” experience everybody’s always on about.

That being said, there is most definitely a line that companies cannot cross. And that’s leave us out of the privacy equation. Users must be allowed to choose a shitty experience with a product, over a seamless one that uses all of their private data to provide that experience.

That’s why Microsoft is addressing the control part of the privacy issues around Windows 10. That’s really the point of contention, anyway – not the kind of data they collect or how they use it. And with that comes more transparency about what they’ll do with that data once you choose to share it.

Users must be given the option of being in the driver’s seat. That’s the basic premise of any privacy policy.

Or, at least, it should be. For Windows 10 or any other technology product.

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Source: Microsoft