Microsoft Edge may be sending search information to Microsoft! Here is how you turn that off

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 22, 2021
Updated • Dec 22, 2021
Microsoft Edge
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Microsoft Edge may send search results from any search that is run in the browser to Microsoft by default. The feature is not limited to Bing Search, it will inform Microsoft about searches on all search engines, including Google, DuckDuckGo, or StartPage, that users of Edge make, if the setting is enabled.

microsoft edge search data collection

If you are using Microsoft Edge, either as the main browser on the system, as a secondary browser, or only when it is open as the default browser for certain links on the system, then you may want to check the settings of the browser to find out if search data is being sent to Microsoft.

When I opened Microsoft Edge today, Assistance from Microsoft Edge displays a popup shortly after start. It told me that I could help Microsoft make search better and that Microsoft "will collect results from searches that you perform in the browser to improve Microsoft products and services". The data that is collected by Microsoft is "never associated" with the user or the device, Microsoft added reassuringly.

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A quick check of the setting revealed that Microsoft Edge turned it on, as it was turned off previously. The setting in question is called "Help improve Microsoft products by sending the results from searches on the web", and you find it in the privacy section.

How to check if Microsoft Edge is sending search data to Microsoft

  1. Load edge://settings/privacy#searchServiceImprovement in the Microsoft Edge web browser; this should load the relevant setting right away. Microsoft's prompt has a "manage setting" button, but it does not reveal the name of the setting and you are taken to the top of the privacy and security settings page of Edge.
  2. Toggle "Help improve Microsoft products by sending the results from searches on the web" to off to disable it (under Search and service improvement).

A support page on the Microsoft website explains what Microsoft is collecting and how it uses the data.

Microsoft may collect:

  • the search term
  • the search results that are displayed.
  • the interaction with the search results, including links that are clicked on.
  • demographic data.

Other data may be collected, but the four items above are listed explicitly by Microsoft.  All the data is collected to improve the user experience in Edge, Bing, Microsoft News and other company services according to Microsoft.

Microsoft claims that it scrubs and de-identifies data by "removing data identifying the person or device from which it was collected", that it does not use the data to "personalize or provide ads", that it never associates the data with an account or device, and that the feature is not available on managed devices.

Closing Words

Microsoft, like many other browser makers, is making setting changes to its browser, which many users would object to, if asked correctly. The change is made automatically, and users need to become active to disable it, provided that they fully understand the implications of having the feature enabled. The popup text is worded cleverly, who would not want better search results?

Now You: what is your take on this?

Summary
Microsoft Edge may be sending search results to Microsoft! Here is how you turn that off
Article Name
Microsoft Edge may be sending search results to Microsoft! Here is how you turn that off
Description
Microsoft Edge may send search results from any search that is run in the browser to Microsoft by default.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Bill Gates absorb data said on December 22, 2021 at 8:46 am
    Reply

    similar setting available in brave browser
    google safe browsing is still on by default in brave browser

    1. Anonymous said on December 22, 2021 at 11:40 am
      Reply

      Firefox, vivaldi and opera too. And your point is?

    2. Anonymous said on December 22, 2021 at 12:42 pm
      Reply

      yeah… and Brave proxies the connection so it goes through Brave servers, not google ones.

    3. ULBoom said on December 22, 2021 at 10:28 pm
      Reply

      That’s not what safe browsing is. Does it make any sense for the average user to have no browser protection against phishing and malware? No.

      Turn it off if you understand the issue and have alternate protections in place.

    4. Bill Gates lives on the moon said on December 23, 2021 at 7:15 pm
      Reply

      Google safe browsing API has nothing to do with this feature.

  2. qd said on December 22, 2021 at 9:17 am
    Reply

    just checked… mine is still off. i did notice the enhanced security thing was off. also noticed on one profile (dark theme) there was no enhance image option at all, whilst in another profile (not dark theme… which might or might not have anything to do with anything) there was. same machine.. same win10 user account.

  3. Anonymous said on December 22, 2021 at 9:21 am
    Reply

    not suprised really…

  4. JimmyQ said on December 22, 2021 at 9:30 am
    Reply

    Thank you for this article!!

  5. Pete said on December 22, 2021 at 9:40 am
    Reply

    I bet this is to siphon results from google search and match them in bing without technically doing it themselves.

  6. Paul(us) said on December 22, 2021 at 11:03 am
    Reply

    I’m not surprised by it at all.
    In fact, I would have been very surprised by it if it had not been.
    Furthermore, who wants to put their hand in the fire that now there is not a back door, which continues it’s relaying of your private data?

  7. ShintoPlasm said on December 22, 2021 at 1:24 pm
    Reply

    What, *just* your search results?

  8. Dumbledalf said on December 22, 2021 at 1:37 pm
    Reply

    Edge and Microsoft are garbage.

    1. common sense computing said on December 22, 2021 at 10:33 pm
      Reply

      Says the win 11 luser with an overinflated ego.

  9. Jamie said on December 22, 2021 at 3:14 pm
    Reply

    Notice that they don’t have a Group Policy setting to disable it either, hoping that users will just click the big blue “Got it” button and hand them all that data.

    The fact that Microsoft think they are entitled to collect everything people are searching for, what results are displayed and what they click on – is concerning. This isn’t just on Bing, but for sites and search engines that Microsoft doesn’t even own or operate. Why do they think this is any of their business and that they should be entitled to this?

    Edge has become such a scummy browser since they moved to Chromium. Unless you have to use it, stay clear of it.

  10. Jake said on December 22, 2021 at 3:49 pm
    Reply

    It really is remarkable how much unwelcome, intrusive, invasive garbage one has to opt out of today just to use a web browser. And Microsoft is but one player in the game.

  11. common sense computing said on December 22, 2021 at 3:55 pm
    Reply

    Win 10-11 reset privacy preferences and add invasive spyware on every forced update, no surprise edge does it as well.

  12. Dave said on December 22, 2021 at 4:37 pm
    Reply

    When this ‘feature’ was added there was a large notification at the top of the screen announcing it that stayed there until you clicked it.

    If you didn’t read it, that’s your fault.

  13. HottoG said on December 22, 2021 at 5:55 pm
    Reply

    This may be the most paranoid thing I’ve ever read on Ghacks, and that’s saying a lot!

  14. Corky said on December 22, 2021 at 6:35 pm
    Reply

    I wonder if Google will have anything to say about this. Surely collecting that sort of bulk data on how your competitor does what they do would be considered industrial espionage or something.

  15. ULBoom said on December 22, 2021 at 10:42 pm
    Reply

    That was one of the first settings I turned off when edge couldn’t be removed. Then blocked the f’n thing in the firewall.

    Since the We Need Google fools at MS decided that Chredge mutation was the way to go, take the next step and make it go. Uninstall it, it’s easy to do.

    Bing is fairly pitiful, growing it into something even close to Google Search is a monumental task, one that one of the myriad extraneous teams at MS now owns, apparently. Next month, Bauhaus Emojis!

    I’ve never understood the logic behind using edge or defender if privacy is a goal. Why voluntarily give MS even more info? Spread it out.

    1. Anonymous said on December 23, 2021 at 12:35 am
      Reply

      If privacy is goal, just don’t use Windows? Spread it out.

  16. Steve S. said on December 23, 2021 at 12:36 am
    Reply

    I rarely, rarely open Edge but I did so after reading your post — and an update installed immediately:

    Microsoft Edge Update
    Version: 1.3.153.55

    My version now:
    Microsoft Edge
    Version 96.0.1054.62 (Official build) (64-bit)

    Investigating, I found:

    1. edge://settings/privacy#searchServiceImprovement — doesn’t show at all in my settings. Not sure why. The MS support page you link to has no date or revision date anywhere so I don’t know if it’s current.

    2. edge://policy/ — I have certain settings in Edge managed by policies.

    I have Windows 10 as decluttered and private as reasonably possible. Apparently, some Win 10 policies seem to be superceded by Edge policies.
    I found these two Edge policies are now OBSOLETE.

    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/DeployEdge/microsoft-edge-policies#sendsiteinfotoimproveservices — “OBSOLETE: This policy is obsolete and doesn’t work after Microsoft Edge 88. This policy is no longer supported. It is replaced by DiagnosticData (for Windows 7, Windows 8, and macOS) and Allow Telemetry on Win 10 (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=2099569).”

    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/DeployEdge/microsoft-edge-policies#metricsreportingenabled — “OBSOLETE: This policy is obsolete and doesn’t work after Microsoft Edge 88. This policy is no longer supported. It is replaced by DiagnosticData (for Windows 7, Windows 8, and macOS) and Allow Telemetry on Win 10 (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=2099569).”

    So I really don’t know whether MS has changed things with the latest Edge Update to remove the “searchServiceImprovement” setting, whether my settings and policies in Win 10 prevent the #searchServiceImprovement from displaying in Edge — nor whether MS is collecting search data anyway.

    1. Steve S. said on December 23, 2021 at 12:42 am
      Reply

      “…seem to be superceded by Edge policies.” should read “…seem to supercede Edge policies.”

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on December 23, 2021 at 6:38 am
      Reply

      Steve, I checked on another device, and it did not have the setting. I then opened a couple of Edge Dev installs and they all had it. Not sure what to make out of it. Maybe it is in a controlled roll-out?

      1. ShintoPlasm said on December 23, 2021 at 9:44 am
        Reply

        Possibly an A/B test?

  17. Steve S. said on December 23, 2021 at 1:14 am
    Reply

    I rarely open Edge voluntarily but I did so after reading your post — and an update installed immediately:

    Microsoft Edge Update
    Version: 1.3.153.55

    My version now:
    Microsoft Edge
    Version 96.0.1054.62 (Official build) (64-bit)

    Investigating, I found:

    1. edge://settings/privacy#searchServiceImprovement — doesn’t show at all in my settings. Not sure why. The MS support page you link to has no date or revision date anywhere on it so I don’t know if it’s current.

    2. edge://policy/ — I have certain settings in Edge managed by policies. I have Windows 10 as decluttered and private as reasonably possible. Apparently, some Win 10 policies seem to supercede Edge policies. I found these two Edge policies are now OBSOLETE.

    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/DeployEdge/microsoft-edge-policies#sendsiteinfotoimproveservices — “OBSOLETE: This policy is obsolete and doesn’t work after Microsoft Edge 88. This policy is no longer supported. It is replaced by DiagnosticData (for Windows 7, Windows 8, and macOS) and Allow Telemetry on Win 10 (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=2099569).”

    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/DeployEdge/microsoft-edge-policies#metricsreportingenabled — “OBSOLETE: This policy is obsolete and doesn’t work after Microsoft Edge 88. This policy is no longer supported. It is replaced by DiagnosticData (for Windows 7, Windows 8, and macOS) and Allow Telemetry on Win 10 (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=2099569).”

    So I really don’t know whether MS has changed things with the latest Edge Update to remove the “searchServiceImprovement” setting, whether my settings and policies in Win 10 prevent the #searchServiceImprovement from displaying in Edge — nor whether MS is still collecting search data anyway.

    I will continue to stay the h*ll away from Edge, though.

    1. Anonymous said on December 23, 2021 at 7:02 pm
      Reply

      > doesn’t show at all in my settings. Not sure why.

      This data collection and setting is not available on managed devices. Your device is considered managed because of your tweaked policies.

  18. duck and cover said on December 23, 2021 at 4:24 am
    Reply

    One Microsoft Way

    Get that in your head. THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU.

  19. Tony said on December 23, 2021 at 9:03 pm
    Reply

    There is also a flag in edge://flags that you may need to disable: edge://flags/#edge-msb-all-dse

    This may be enterprise only, but it’s still there and not trustable.

    It says: “Experience the benefits of enterprise search results powered by Microsoft Search with Bing regardless of the Address Bar’s Default Search Engine. This feature can be managed via the AddressBarMicrosoftSearchInBingProviderEnabled policy.”

  20. Question said on December 24, 2021 at 7:45 am
    Reply

    Um, why would you not include the link … the link to more information that Microsoft is providing there in two different places?

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