Microsoft promises to give users more control over their personal data and visibility into how it’s used when the Windows 10 Creators Update arrives on April 11.
However, eager Windows 10 users can manually initiate the installation starting today if they don’t wish to wait for the automatic Windows Update.
In light of recent controversies surrounding weak or absent enforcement of data privacy rules, how companies collect and use their customers’ information has become a hot-button issue among consumers who are concerned about the privacy and security of their personal data.
Faced with intensifying criticism in the days leading up to President Donald Trump’s signing of the repeal of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) internet privacy rules, cable TV and internet provider Comcast publicly staked its position.
Critics warn that the scuttling the FCC’s rules, which had yet to take effect, will empower internet service providers (ISP) to sell the web browsing and internet activity histories of their customers for marketing purposes.
“We do not sell our broadband customers’ individual web browsing history,” said Gerard Lewis, senior vice president, deputy general counsel and chief privacy officer of Comcast, in a March 31 statement. “We did not do it before the FCC’s rules were adopted, and we have no plans to do so.”
Microsoft, no stranger to criticism about how it handles user privacy, is pledging more transparency about Windows 10 Creators Update’s privacy settings. In addition to providing revised privacy controls, Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft, said the operating system will be more forthcoming about how those controls affect a user’s data.
“We are improving in-product information about your privacy,” said Myerson in an April 5 blog post. “With both short descriptions about each privacy setting and a ‘Learn More’ button, we are committed to making information about your privacy choices easy to access and understand.”
Supplementing those features is an updated online privacy statement, Myerson added. Covering Microsoft’s product portfolio, including Bing, Cortana and of course Windows, the guide allows users to research how a specific online service or software offering treats their data.
For example, Microsoft reveals that it can collect information regarding a device’s network capabilities, installed applications, processor and other components using the Basic diagnostic and usage data collection setting in Windows.
The Full setting, on the other hand, casts a wider net and can even capture samples of typing or stylus input, although the company stresses that it strips out any information that can be used to identify a user or recreate the original content.
After the Windows 10 Creators Update is applied, users will receive a notification to revisit their privacy settings, according to Marisa Rogers, the Windows and Devices Group privacy officer at Microsoft.
Previous settings will carry over, but users will be able to make changes, she stated in the post. New users, or those who opt for a fresh install can take the new privacy settings for a spin during the initial setup process.