What’s the common factor between Windows 10 and some of the most prominent actors of the Golden Age of Hollywood? They are both accused of being spies! Just like Charlie Chaplin and Helen Keller (yes, that’s real), Windows 10 has been accused of spying. Specifically, Windows 10 has been accused of spying on literally everything you do.
The operating system launched about 8 months ago and immediately reports started coming in about the alleged spying. The articles about Windows 10 spying were extreme with some making jokes that Microsoft had the “right to your first-born child” hidden away in its ToS. While that assumption is a bit extreme, other allegations were a little more realistic. But is the threat still there 8 months later?
What Could Windows 10 See?
The big question was what exactly Windows 10 could see? Well here’s an excerpt from the 12,000-word ToS.
“Finally, 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: 1.comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process, including from law enforcement or other government agencies; 2.protect our customers, for example to prevent spam or attempts to defraud users of the services, or to help prevent the loss of life or serious injury of anyone; 3.operate and maintain the security of our services, including to prevent or stop an attack on our computer systems or networks; or 4.protect the rights or property of Microsoft, including enforcing the terms governing the use of the services – however, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property of Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves, but we may refer the matter to law enforcement.”
Microsoft adds that they will only do this when they need to comply with law enforcement, prevent spam, maintain the security of their networks, or protect their rights or properties. However, it was also alleged that Microsoft was also keeping tabs on your behavior so that it could target specific ads to you.
What Does Microsoft Have To Say?
Microsoft Executive Vice President Terry Myerson released a statement about the spying allegations, explaining that even though some information is collected, users are “in control with the ability to determine what information is collected.” Myerson went on to say that the data collected “is encrypted in transit to our servers, and then stored in secure facilities.”
There were also fears of files being scanned, though Myerson stated that Windows 10 does not, in fact, scan your files and emails so that it can target ads and even took a swipe at other companies saying, “Unlike some other platforms, no matter what privacy options you choose, neither Windows 10 nor any other Microsoft software scans the content of your email or other communications, or your files, in order to deliver targeted advertising to you.”
Put Away Your Tinfoil Hat
A report from someone who claims to be affiliated with iTS, which is a very obscure torrent tracker, claimed this:
“Microsoft decided to revoke any kind of data protection and submit whatever they can gather to not only themselves but also others. One of those is one of the largest anti-piracy company [sic] called MarkMonitor. Amongst other things Windows 10 sends the contents of your local disks directly to one of their servers.”
The best thing about this is that it’s entirely false. In fact, there’s literally no basis for this information at all and none of the major torrent sites seem to have a problem with Windows 10. Another crazy theory comes in the form of this:
“Windows 10’s new license agreement … gives Microsoft permission to Hoover up every particle of data on a doctor’s hard drive. This will include any confidential patient-doctor emails that are stored there, any reports, any bills, and any short notes to staff through intra-network messaging (for example: “Spoke to Tom Mypatient today re gender dysphoria and desire to transition to female. Pls follow up with referral.”)”
But that’s not true either. These are just gross misinterpretations of the junk of Microsoft’s ToS I mentioned above. And those terms only apply to content that is stored online using Microsoft’s services. If you use Microsoft’s services to store stuff on OneDrive then it is entirely possible that a court could subpoena Microsoft and compel them to hand over that information.
So what have we learned here? We’ve learned that if you are holding off on installing Windows 10 because you think this is Cold War America and that Windows 10 is a Charlie Chaplin-esque spy then you need to take off your tinfoil hat and go outside for a bit.
There’s no risk that Microsoft is going to gather information off of your local hard disk and send it to someone. It’s just not going to happen. There are around 75 million computers with Windows 10 on them at the moment so you would think that if Microsoft was doing something nefarious at least one person out of 75 million would have noticed by now.
*If you’re in need of computer service, maintenance, or repairs then contact ComputerServiceNow today! We offer everything from PC repair/setup, networking repair/setup and IT consulting to equipment sales, PC tune-ups, and malware/virus removal! Contact us today by calling 877-422-1907 or by leaving us a note on our website here!
Sharing this story on social media? Use these hashtags! #Microsoft #Windows10 #Windows10Spying