The Privacy Question Of Windows 10

Windows 10 is out as of today (Wednesday 29th July 2015) and on the surface is a major improvement over the much maligned Windows 8. This should be excellent news for consumers, which it is to a large extent, but what is lurking under the hood in terms of privacy?

Well, according to the Windows 10 piracy and service agreement (even word knows where I am going with this as I typed privacy and this was changed to piracy) There are a few settings which you might want to take note of.

Data Sync

Firstly, Microsoft has implemented “Data Syncing” by default, this means when you sign in with your Windows account, the operating system immediately syncs settings and data to the companies servers. This includes your browser history, favourites and the websites you currently have open as well as saved app, website and mobile hotspot passwords and Wi-Fi network names and passwords.

You can opt out of this if you look under “settings” but just to be clear, you are already opted in to Data Sync unless you decide that you would rather not have your history on Microsoft’s servers.

Information Cortana shares

Like the idea of voice assistant “Cortana” you might also like to know what data is also shared within this feature, which includes information such as your device location, data from calendars, the apps you use, data from emails and texts, who you call, your contacts, how often you use your device (takes in a deep breath) What music you like, alarm settings, if you have the lock screen on, what you view and purchase, your voice input as well as nicknames, names of people and appointments, whether or not you’re building an underground lair aaannnndddd how often you interact with them on your device. Granted Cortana is designed to “learn” from analysing information, a lot of information as it turns out.

Microsoft’s encryption and collection of data

The terms and conditions also state that Microsoft will collect app use data for apps that run on Windows’ and ‘data about the networks you connect to” Windows 10 will also generate a unique advertising ID for each user on each device, this can and probably will be used by developers and ad networks to profile you. You can turn advertising profiling off in the settings, which might be worth a look.

Like the idea of encrypting your drive? It might be worth mentioning that your BitLocker recovery key will be backed up to your OneDrive account.

Disclosing data

Now for the killer privacy lacking feature, the following is what Microsoft defines as to who they might disclose your data to.

“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 protect our customers or enforce the terms governing the use of the services”

This is not clear when the criteria would be met and who they might disclose private data in folders to. Behind the glossy façade lays at the very least a few questionable policies which might infringe on basic liberties. If you’re using Windows 10, I would have another look at the settings to see what can be turned off, that is unless you’re happy with Microsoft’s new arrangements with its customers.

Thank You thenextweb, Microsoft Privacy and service agreement

Image courtesy of christianpost

What Happens if You Leak Microsoft Gear of War Secrets?

We’ve known for a while now that Gears of War was getting a remake, it’s been rumored for a while now, but finally we have proof. VMC Games is a company contracted to test out new games and like many other companies these contracts comes with an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). But what happens if you break this? Well apparently your Xbox One is removed completely from the online world.

NDAs have been around for a while, companies take them out so the only time anyone can speak about a topic or product is when its done formally through a press release of some kind. Used in everything from courtrooms to government offices, the name gives away that once you sign it, you do not speak about it. An unlucky VMC games tester has unfortunately found out the hard way that Microsoft does not approve of you breaking your contract with them.

By sending a screenshot to a friend about the Gears remake that he was testing, that’s right he was telling his friend what he was working on and then sent him a screen grab of the game, the employee has found that both his bosses and Microsoft are taking action. With both VMC Games’s legal department and no doubt Microsoft’s involved, the employee is in a lot of legal troubles, all the while coupled by the fact they are now banned from the VMC Games program and they are having their Xbox Live access removed. Break the NDA and you lose all access to online functions, both for your account and your Xbox apparently. So break their NDA and you’ll quickly find your online life removed from your Xbox for however long Microsoft deem it necessary.

This was all caused by the fact that, after being tricked into thinking they were working on the same project, the employee sent a Snapchat of the screenshot which was then uploaded to the web before going viral. Not only has this damaged VMC Games reputation and potentially the trust of companies around the world with beta testers as a whole, but one person has lost a job all because a friend tricked them. These were not the only leaks I would like to add, several members of the Beta testing community have been found to have leaked footage and screen shots of the unannounced Gears of War project, and no doubt Microsoft will be making sure that their Xbox Ones are disabled with a swift hand.

What do you think about this situation? Do they deserve it for breaking the NDA, is removing Xbox live access going a little too easy on them?

Thanks to Kotaku and Engadget for the information.

Image courtesy of Pichost.