Cause for Concern with Privacy Settings in Windows 10

The hurdles begin immediately after the installation of the operating system while going through the initial setup wizard. With a huge wall of text in the very first screen, there is a provision for default settings with the ‘Use Express settings’ button.

Trouble in the first hurdle

Johnathan Porta, the web developer decided to customize the settings instead, by switching over to the ‘Advanced configuration’ options, which raised a few red flags.

Under custom settings, the first statement reads,: “Personalize your speech, typing, and inking input by sending contacts and calendar details, along with other associated input data to Microsoft.”

This is certain to get users of the world’s most widely used operating system, curious. Questions will be raised as to why contact and calendar details should be sent to Microsoft at all.

Moreover, with the new embedded virtual assistant in Cortana, privacy concerns will come to the fore with Microsoft’s intent to “personalize your speech, typing, and inking.” All of these options are enabled by default, by Microsoft.

Checking into what you are typing

The second option goes, “Send typing and inking data to Microsoft to improve the recognition and suggestion platform.” This is also disconcerting while being vague, bringing the cause to concern again over user privacy. Windows users will understandably have questions about Microsoft’s need to acquire typed content.

Is Microsoft going to reveal where you are?

Location history. It is an accepted feature in smartphones and tablets these days with a plethora of applications requiring the user’s location to function as they are intended to.

“Let Windows and apps request your location, including location history, and send Microsoft and trusted partners some location data to improve location services.”

Porta rightly stokes questions about these ‘trusted partners’ and who they are. None of these ‘trusted partners’ are revealed during the setup process.

Raised eyebrows again at the second hurdle

What starts off well, with,: “Use page prediction to improve reading, speed up browsing, and make your overall experience better in Windows browsers…“ triggers alarm bells again when it concludes with,: “Your browsing data will be sent to Microsoft.”

Porta continues in pointing out the privacy settings’ pitfalls.

“Automatically connect to suggested open hotspots. Not all networks are secure.” With this feature being enabled, Windows laptops, tablets and phones that connect to open hotspots are instantly vulnerable to exploits by automatically connecting to a rogue connection that distributes malicious software.

“Automatically connect to networks shared by your contacts.” This is a part of Windows’ new feature, Wi-Fi sense. The new addition to Windows 10 has already caused much debate over its usage and the concerns it brings with privacy and user networks that may be rendered vulnerable.

In a single day since its release, Microsoft claims that 14 million devices are already running Windows 10. Questions and concerns about privacy settings, features, and bugs are certain to “come out of the woodwork” in the coming days.