Microsoft in the dock again for aggressive user data collection
Microsoft is facing questions again, this time from the Netherlands Data Protection Authority (DPA), over how the company collects user data from the Windows 10 operating system meant for PCs. The DPA suggests that Microsoft is breaching the Dutch data protection laws, by processing user data from computing devices they use. This is not the first time that Microsoft has been questioned over the fairly aggressive collection of user data and how that information is handled.
The DPA is specifically referring to the Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro operating systems, which are designed for homes and business users respectively.
“Microsoft does not clearly inform users about the type of data it uses, and for which purpose. Also, people cannot provide valid consent for the processing of their personal data, because of the approach used by Microsoft. The company does not clearly inform users that it continuously collects personal data about the usage of apps and web surfing behaviour through its web browser Edge, when the default settings are used,” says the official statement released by the DPA.
The doubts specifically relate to the Windows 10 set-up process, where users may or may not be able to opt out of specific aspects of the data that Microsoft may collect from that particular PC. The Dutch DPA suggests that the way the default set-up process is designed, the company isn’t actually getting genuine consent from users for the data that it collects. Microsoft regularly collects what is known as “telemetry data” such as performance logs, which apps are installed on that device, and can also collect data on how often each app is used, the user behaviour around individual apps as well as the web surfing specifics using the Edge web browser.
“It turns out that Microsoft’s operating system follows about every step you take on your computer. That results in an intrusive profile of yourself,” says Wilbert Tomesen, vice-chairman, DPA, in the official statement.
Microsoft has always collected user data, which the company has regularly suggested, is used for fixing errors, performance issues and to improve the apps and services it offers.
In response, Microsoft has not taken kindly to this observation by the Dutch DPA, and has questioned the accuracy of the findings.
While there is the expected statement about how Microsoft takes user data privacy seriously, there also seems to be a genuine willingness to work with the Dutch DPA to ensure that Windows 10 editions comply with the Dutch privacy laws.