EFF slams Microsoft’s ‘blatant disregard’ for user privacy with Windows 10

EFF slams Microsoft’s ‘blatant disregard’ for user privacy with Windows 10

Privacy campaigners warn that people will soon abandon the once trusted company


EFF on Windows 10 privacy



THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION (EFF) has lashed out at Microsoft over the company’s “blatant disregard” for user privacy with the pushy, data-slurping Windows 10 operating system.


Following the launch of a petition in June, EFF has heard from thousands of pissed off people who are asked it to take action against Microsoft, and the privacy campaigners are doing just that. EFF is calling on Microsoft to listen to its users, of which more than 6,000 have signed the online petition, and incorporate their complaints into its operating system. 


“Otherwise, Microsoft may find that it has inadvertently discovered just how far it can push its users before they abandon a once-trusted company for a better, more privacy-protective solution,” EFF’s Amul Kalia said in a blog post.


First on EFF’s radar is Microsoft’s backhanded tactics to get people to upgrade to Windows 10, which we here at the INQUIRER know about all too well.


The organisation called out Microsoft’s shady installing of an app that kick-started the virus-like ‘Get Windows 10’ prompts, the tactic to make the operating system a recommended update so that it installed on machines alongside critical security patches, and the ridiculous ploy of changing the ‘X’ in the download prompt to mean ‘yes please’.


“Time after time, with each update, Microsoft chose to employ questionable tactics to cause users to download a piece of software that many didn’t want,” Kalia said.


“What users actually wanted didn’t seem to matter. In an extreme case, members of a wildlife conservation group in the African jungle felt that the automatic download of Windows 10 on a limited bandwidth connection could have endangered their lives if a forced upgrade had begun during a mission.”


Naturally, being a privacy advocate and all that, the EFF isn’t too pleased about the amount of data gathered by Windows 10 and sent back to Microsoft. 


For example, the EFF explained that if you use Cortana, and let’s be honest you don’t have much choice, Microsoft collects your (deep breath) location data, text input, voice input, touch input and web pages visited, along with telemetry data regarding general use of the computer, including programs run and for how long.


What’s more, unless you’re an enterprise Windows 10 user, you have to share at least some of this telemetry data with Microsoft and there’s no way to opt out.


The only way to dodge sending this data to Microsoft is to, er, not install security updates, which – you guessed it – Microsoft doesn’t really recommend. 


“Microsoft is claiming that giving ordinary users more privacy by letting them turn telemetry reporting down to its lowest level would risk their security since they would no longer get security updates,” said the EFF.

The group warned that Microsoft can expect more lawsuits and government investigations if it continues to treat customers with such disregard, which is music to the INQUIRER‘s ears. µ