Microsoft promises to be even more transparent about data it collects - gHacks Tech News

Microsoft promises to be even more transparent about data it collects

Microsoft announced three improvements in regards to privacy and data collection on April 30, 2019. The steps, revealed by Microsoft Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Julie Brill, on the official Microsoft Blog, are designed to "give customers increased transparency and control over their data that is used by Microsoft's major products".

The three steps, categorization of data, increased transparency, and a new biannual privacy report, address feedback of Microsoft customers in regards to privacy.

Brill notes that customers are concerned about privacy, and that they want to know more about the data that Microsoft collects and how it uses the data.

In recent months we’ve heard from customers – especially those in Europe – with questions about the data that is collected from their devices when they use our products and services.

Microsoft faced some heat, especially from European Data Protection Authorities, e.g. from the Netherlands or France, over the company's Windows 10 operating system and its collecting of data.

Tip: check out these privacy tools for Windows 10.

Categorization

microsoft privacy

Microsoft wants to categorize data that it collects in all its major products. Collected data is either categorized as required or optional. Required data is data that is necessary to operate Microsoft products and services.

Brill mentions terms of a search query, and the IP address, type and version of the device for connectivity to Microsoft cloud services and delivering security patches.

Customers may, in some instances, control if required data is collected, as they may select to use certain features, e.g. using Microsoft cloud services. New configuration options will be unveiled in the near future to give customers more control over data collection for certain features or functions according to Brill.

Optional data is non-essential data for products or services. Microsoft customers "will be able to control the collection of optional data" without affecting the use of specific features or services.

Microsoft, once again, wants to give customers control over the data collecting so that they may allow or block the collecting.

Brill mentions two examples of optional data: data about pictures embedded into Word documents to "provide better image options" and the time it takes for PowerPoint slides to appear to "improve the experience if it's slow".

Increased transparency

Microsoft plans to improve documentation in regards to privacy and transparency. The company plans to update the company's Privacy Hub and the Enterprise Trust Center with information about the data that it collects.

Customers will be able to see required and optional data for major Microsoft products. Explanations and descriptions will be provided to help customers understand why data is required or optional.

We’ll improve upon our existing documentation practices, to describe what we collect in these two categories, in ways that are easy to understand, and to explain why data in the required category is necessary.

Biannual privacy report

Microsoft will publish a biannual privacy report that highlights new required data that Microsoft began to collect and data that Microsoft no longer collects.

The report will be published on Microsoft's Privacy website.

This report will highlight any new required data collection we believe is fundamental to provide, secure, update or maintain the performance of our products. We will also note instances when we stop collecting certain types of data from devices (because product or service changes mean the data is no longer required). Last, we will explain when we make changes to our data collection in response to new privacy laws, industry standards and regulations.

Closing Words

The changes will roll out in the coming months. Categorization will focus on Windows 10 and Office365 ProPlus first; other Microsoft products, Xbox and Dynamics 365 are mentioned specifically, will follow at a later point in time.

 

 

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Microsoft promises to be even more transparent about data it collects
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Microsoft promises to be even more transparent about data it collects
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Microsoft announced three improvements in regards to privacy and data collection on April 30, 2019 for its major products.
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Comments

  1. nononoo said on May 3, 2019 at 10:56 am
    Reply

    Rethoric “Brill notes that customers are concerned about privacy, and that they want to know more about the data that Microsoft collects and how it uses the data.”.

    I want them to stop collecting data alltogether or at least give me the choice to fully opt out and not have telemetry reinstalled “accidentally” when updating.

    1. John Fenderson said on May 3, 2019 at 4:51 pm
      Reply

      @nononoo:

      I agree. It’s been an interesting trend with all of the surveillance capitalism businesses like Microsoft, Facebook, etc. Rather than addressing the underlying problem, they keep touting “transparency” as if everything is OK if they just tell us about it.

      It’s not.

      1. Jody Thornton said on May 4, 2019 at 2:49 am
        Reply

        Problem is @John – that’s how business is done now. Advertising on traditional media is worthless now, so electronic means will supplant that. If software can be given away for free, but used as a conduit for gathering target and demographic info, then so much the better.

        Boxed software used for perpetuity is no longer a profitable method of conducting business, so telemetry gathering is here to stay.

      2. John Fenderson said on May 6, 2019 at 5:04 pm
        Reply

        @Jody Thornton: “that’s how business is done now”

        Not universally, and there is nothing that means it has to be done that way. This is, in my view, little more than abusing the customers. At the very least, companies should provide spy-free versions of their software, even if it costs money.

        “Boxed software used for perpetuity is no longer a profitable method of conducting business”

        Boxed software, maybe not, but non-SaaS software and non-spying software is still a very profitable method of conducting business. The problem is that it only generates a “very good” profit, when spying on your users can generate “obscene” profits.

  2. John G. said on May 3, 2019 at 11:02 am
    Reply

    I don’t care about their promises, I just use Blackbird V6. Probably the best W10 privacy tool.

    1. billy said on May 3, 2019 at 4:22 pm
      Reply

      How do you think it compares to wdp?

      1. John G. said on May 3, 2019 at 11:17 pm
        Reply

        It’s portable, easy to use, up to date and it has always done its work for me with no problem.

  3. Anonymous said on May 3, 2019 at 11:04 am
    Reply

    I’ll believe them when I can uninstall Edge or prevent Cortana from restarting after I force-quit it.

  4. crambie said on May 3, 2019 at 11:07 am
    Reply

    So no way to say don’t collect any, and if they care about privacy as they are pretending to how about opt in. It’s doing the minimum they can get away with knowing that many don’t check through all the options or read a privacy reports so they’ll still spy on most.

  5. Nik said on May 3, 2019 at 11:37 am
    Reply

    Somebody tell them April fools was a month ago

  6. Malte said on May 3, 2019 at 12:27 pm
    Reply

    Being transparent isn’t enough and it’s obvioulsy a lie anyway.
    How about removing the built-in keylogger in Win10? That’d be great. Mmkay Microsoft? ;)

  7. Tom Hawack said on May 3, 2019 at 12:31 pm
    Reply

    I wouldn’t bet on Microsoft promises nor on any of major corporations : lie has become an essential component of communication.

    As stated above by nononoo “I want them to stop collecting data alltogether”. period.
    Privacy tools, so many in particular concerning Windows 10, shouldn’t be required on an OS level. Moreover given the fact Windows is not free, you pay for the OS and moreover you get an OS bundled with trackers and nonsense games and applications as I’ve understood it (Win7 here).

    This tracking policy is flourishing, it’s become a natural component of many applications and software, it’s beyond ethic principles in the minds of concerned developers, it’s become a social phenomenon.

    We (an increasing number of users myself included) do not subscribe to this unnatural evolution, maybe not evil if we wish to reserve that denomination for worse than worse, bud certainly vicious.

    1. h said on May 3, 2019 at 10:45 pm
      Reply

      Excactly !

  8. TheyLive said on May 3, 2019 at 2:10 pm
    Reply

    Whatever Microsoft ‘promises’ (never trust a notorious liar), so long Windows does not offer an option to disable Cortana, blocking www[.]bing[.]com (i.e. via hosts file, internal DNS server, etc.) is the answer.

  9. Rick said on May 3, 2019 at 3:35 pm
    Reply

    MS: How about adding an option to disable all data collection in one click.

  10. john IL said on May 3, 2019 at 3:53 pm
    Reply

    Not so concerned about Microsoft collecting telemetry as I am that it hasn’t translated into improving Windows stability in the least. If your going to collect data then at least use it to improve your products.
    I question why this is such a hot topic with Windows users when companies like Google and Facebook collect so much more detailed data on a user?

    1. Tom Hawack said on May 3, 2019 at 4:21 pm
      Reply

      @john IL, you question “why this is such a hot topic with Windows users when companies like Google and Facebook collect so much more detailed data on a user?”

      I think that’s an excellent remark.

      As I see it, Facebook is an addiction for many and addiction blinds. Concerning Google I believe the company has an excellently wise communication policy all about being desired, never soliciting but presenting itself as the best choice with the understatement “if you’re smart enough to realize it”. Simplicity as well, intuitive, set and forget … except that systematic and enhanced tracking is the company’s very credo.

      Microsoft could make it with tracking if its products were technologically irreproachable, which is far from being factual. Google applications, tomorrow as problematic as Windows 10 and you’d see the same rebellion as with Microsoft. If you wanna track it is imperative that the user be elsewhere either satisfied either indoctrinated either addicted.

    2. John Fenderson said on May 3, 2019 at 5:51 pm
      Reply

      @john IL: “I question why this is such a hot topic with Windows users when companies like Google and Facebook collect so much more detailed data on a user?”

      Companies like Google and Facebook are also heavily criticized for their misbehavior. I see no reason why Microsoft should get a pass.

    3. AnorKnee Merce said on May 4, 2019 at 7:03 am
      Reply

      @ john IL

      Apples and oranges.

      For desktop OS, there are M$-Windows, Apple-MacOS, Linus-Linux and Google-ChromeOS. M$-Windows commands about 90% of the world market since the 1990s while Google-ChromeOS has only about 1%.
      ……. When M$-Windows 10 started to impose forced Telemetry & Data collection, it has a wider implication on computer users than when Google-ChromeOS did the same. On top of this, computer users have to pay for M$-Win 10 while Google-ChromeOS is a free desktop OS.

      OTOH, Facebook is just a free website or app, similar to Google-Search and Google-Maps, which computer users can avoid completely or can choose to use other less privacy-intrusive apps, eg DuckDuckGo-Search, Openstreetmap, etc. Google-Chrome, M$-Edge and Mozilla-Firefox are just free web-browsers. These free apps are not a desktop OS like M$-Windows that dominate and underlie about 90% of the computers of users in the world.

      Many computer users believe it is fair trade for them to receive free apps from Google in return for allowing Google to track them for ad revenue and the selling of aggregated anonymized user-data. Hence, Google-Search and Google-Chrome command about 70% of the world market. This business model is similar to free-to-air TV companies like ABC, CBS and FOX which show a lot of ads on their free programs.
      ……. It is not fair trade for non-free M$-Win 10 to do the same.

  11. AnorKnee Merce said on May 3, 2019 at 5:35 pm
    Reply

    Circa 2014, …….

    The NSA: Nadella, we want to be able to spy on all Windows users when you release the next version, in order to track Muslim terrorists, other extremists and hardcore criminals in the US. If you do that, we will ensure that the US government will never prosecute M$ for any business violation and will protect her business, eg from Windows piracy.

    Nadella: Sure deal. M$ will build-in forced Telemetry & Data collection or spyware into the upcoming Win 10 but we will need to give the public an excuse for doing that. ??? …

    …. Eureka.! M$ will lay off her Windows Testing Division purportedly to save costs and then claim that she will need to impose forced Telemetry & Data collection to get test-feedback from Win 10 users. We will recruit impressionable Windows Insiders as our unpaid alpha-testers and the cheapskate OEM Win 10 Home users as our guinea-pigs or unpaid beta-testers. To do this, we will also need to impose forced auto-updates/upgrades on the unpaid testers. We will call this “Windows azz-a Service”.

    After the release of Win 10, M$ will also backport forced Telemetry & Data collection or NSA spyware into Win 7/8.1 computers via sneaky or hidden security updates, eg KB2952664, since M$ cannot force updates onto Win 7/8.1 computers. Later, we can try imposing monthly Patch Rollups to try to trick more Win 7/8.1 users into installing the hidden updates for Telemetry & Data collection.

    By imposing forced auto-upgrades every 6 months, M$ will also be able to make more profit$ from Win 10 users, eg Win 10 Ent users will no longer be able to buy Volume licenses and run the OS for “free” for up to 10 years until EOL, like they used to with Win 7 Ent.

    Sheet.! M$ will be killing 3 birds with 1 stone, ie get US govt protection, save costs and make more profits with Win 10. I’ll be in bonus heaven.

    The NSA: Nadella, please don’t bore us with the details. Just f__king do what we want.

    Nadella: Yes, sir.!

  12. Dave said on May 3, 2019 at 7:06 pm
    Reply

    They don’t seem to understand. I don’t want them collecting data. Period.

    The idea that they must collect data in order for the computer to run is a big fat lie. Why? Because computers ran just fine for 25+ years without collecting data about me.

    1. John Fenderson said on May 3, 2019 at 7:56 pm
      Reply

      @Dave:

      I think they understand perfectly well. They just don’t care what you (or I) want.

  13. Raphael Gz said on May 3, 2019 at 7:16 pm
    Reply

    The following words are pure BS: ” address feedback of Microsoft customers”. Microsoft is the type of company that believes that only Company officers and employees can give correct, true and honest feedback so that is the only feedback they listen to, Common sense it not allowed or has no place in the company. Not to forget that windows 7 and all prior windows help(I have not checked on W10) system is written by those whom write the help system, for those in the company that understand the help system in mind, even if the writers themselves are in the dark about what they write; In MS official language of gobbledegook. I have MS software since MSDOS. One day 99.9 percent of their operation will be based in Asia, so our useless feedback will have to travel a little futher.

  14. ilev said on May 3, 2019 at 8:59 pm
    Reply

    “The three steps, categorization of data, increased transparency, and a new biannual privacy report, address feedback of Microsoft customers in regards to privacy.”

    No, they don’t address feedback of Microsoft customers in regards to privacy. They address Microsoft’s (and Google’s, Facebook’s) horrors from a GDPR like privacy rules coming to the US.
    Microsoft, Google, Facebook.. doesn’t care about customers feedback.

  15. h said on May 3, 2019 at 10:35 pm
    Reply

    “n recent months we’ve heard from customers – especially those in Europe – with questions about the data that is collected from their devices when they use our products and services”

    Really ? Didn’t M$ got in trouble in EU with entire governments about their creepy policies ? What a bunch of hypocrits and liars.

  16. Sport Billy said on May 3, 2019 at 10:45 pm
    Reply

    I consider Windows 10 malware. I’m currently in the preperation stage of UPGRADING a new Windows 10 laptop to Windows 8.1 Pro. Windows for me will cease to be an option after 2023. I find it depressing and tragic that MS decided to emulate Android as a desktop OS. Death to the Windows 10 botnet.

  17. MartinFan said on May 3, 2019 at 11:01 pm
    Reply

    “Microsoft promises to be even more transparent about data it collects” are you saying it was transparent to begin with and now it’s going to be even more transparent?

    “Required data is data that is necessary to operate Microsoft products and services.” Why is it that other developers can make products that do not require tracking but for some reason Microsoft cannot do the same?

  18. Stark said on May 3, 2019 at 11:27 pm
    Reply

    Stupid Microsoft. I just want a way to turn it off completely. Options please. I want no part in any telemetry. Fanboys can keep it on if they like.

  19. ScottV said on May 4, 2019 at 3:55 am
    Reply

    This is why I left Microcrap behind 5 months ago, for Linux. Linux has been a battle to say the least… Many “Distro’s” collect data and who knows what else. I have tried at least 12 different Linux offerings and some reinstalled several times. At the moment im using Linux MX-18 Continium, this is the second or third time i’ve tried mx. One thing i’ve learned is don’t listen to anyone or anything you read as far as which flavor to try, just try them all, until you find one you like but my problem is finding a distro I like, that is stable. I really like being able to tweak my desktop and stuff but I find KDE very unstable, at least, with my setup,it is. There has been many times I’ve thought about going back to Windows but all that telemetrics and key logger crap and having to go through a major, 1 hour process, everytime I want to install windows from scratch, I’d rather deal with distro hopping and the problems I’ve had to fix or tried fixing with Linux.

  20. ULBoom said on May 4, 2019 at 4:56 am
    Reply

    A bunch of gibberish.

    Windows, Office any MS program that doesn’t explicitly have to go online, such as a browser or email, works fine without an online connection. I have a desktop that has no ethernet, no wireless and it works beautifully, so MS does not inherently have to collect data, that’s BS.

    However, anything that requires using online resources by default requires data to be transmitted whether it be for user verification or use of a service.

    However again, verification or providing services doesn’t include tracking what images you insert into Word (OMG!) Real VPN’s and subscription encrypted email companies provide exactly the same type of services MS does and they don’t collect any data beyond user verification.

    I’m generously guessing maybe .0000000001% of the data MS collects is necessary for their stuff to work and most of the rest they lose someplace. Fools!

  21. Cor said on May 4, 2019 at 2:11 pm
    Reply

    Microsoft: Any traffic is now called Windows Analytics 365. You can review these settings by accessing your Microsoft account.

    Microsoft: We’ve set up a test install and left it running for 24h, while monitoring every traffic. These are our results.

    Microsoft: You can review any traffic by downloading an app from our store. To benefit your privacy we’ve obfuscated any results.

    Microsoft: This was without a doubt the smoothest update ever.

  22. John C. said on May 4, 2019 at 2:58 pm
    Reply

    Microsoft has absolutely no credibility whatsoever as far as I’m concerned. Since I have no way of viewing packets sent in the backgroun via hardened IP addresses, they can claim innocence all they want. I simply don’t believe a thing they say anymore.

  23. John said on May 4, 2019 at 4:00 pm
    Reply

    I too left MS 6 years ago and went to Linux. The worst mistake was using Ubuntu which extensively modifies the Linux kernel to take away local admin rights. Now they’ve added proprietary SNAP apps. Everyone is data-mining just like Windows.

    The Linux stability issue rests with the hundreds of flavors of desktops. MS, Google and Apple have ONE desktop to get right.

    The best solution is to quit fighting for an all-in-one Linux PC. Use dedicated multimedia streamers like LibElec/Kodi. They install on 15 minutes on (just about) any PC hardware

    For $70 I have a Raspberry Pi3 B+ running 4.19 kernel with Kodi 18.2! Great for 1080p playback. Use desktop Gparted to make a 16GB microSD image.
    For high-end 4K performance there is Vero 4K and Zidoo.

    For superb data-mining free PVR and multimedia get LinHES w/Kodia 18. Use the internal broadcast EIT guide. Note: a several week project best using a second 4tb drive and quadHD pci Tuner http://www.hauppauge.com/pages/products/data_quadhd.html

    I use the default Xfce Debian open source desktop with added etc-apt-sources.list
    deb http://mxrepo.com/mx/repo/ stretch non-free main
    deb http://mxrepo.com/mx/testrepo/ stretch non-free test
    managing with the wonderful Synaptic Package Manager. Palemoon and Waterfox are in the mx repositories.
    I print and scan with a CUPS Brother laser AIO. Use Clonezilla to backup the boot disk image every few weeks.

    The greatest Linux feature is one master boot image can be restored to any OTHER PC in 15 minutes.

    So divide and conquer then be happy!

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