Your location, browser history, and purchase history are just a few of the things that Microsoft now has access to if you downloaded Windows 10 and kept the default settings.
While Microsoft already collects basic information about users when they begin using its software, including things like names and contact information, Windows 10 gets even more personal collecting things like apps downloaded, visited websites and private communications.
“We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to protect our customers or enforce the terms governing the use of the services,” the company says in its new terms of service.
Here’s a look at some of the most default privacy settings you sign up for when you download Windows 10.
For starters, when signing into Windows with a Microsoft account some of your data using the default settings, some of your data — including your web history, favourites, mobile hotspot, and Wi-Fi network names and passwords — is automatically synced with Microsoft’s servers.
You can deactivate this data sharing in Settings. You will need to go to “Sync your settings” and change the things you want to sync there.
Some other privacy concerns stem from Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana.
The virtual assistant will also collect data about how you interact with Microsoft services, including “your music, alarm settings, whether the lock screen is on, what you view and purchase, your browse and Bing search history, and more.”
To keep Cortana from getting access to all of this information, you’ll want to select ‘Stop getting to know me’ under ‘Speech, inking, & typing’ in the privacy settings. This disables Cortana and dictation.
What’s probably most concerning is that a lot of the information that is being collected about you doesn’t necessarily stay with Microsoft.
Windows 10 also generates a unique ID for each user of the device that is used for advertising purposes. A person’s data usage can then be accessed by third parties, like advertising networks, to target each user.
To stop this from happening you’ll first want to visit Microsoft’s personalised ad preferences page on its website. Here you will be able to turn off personalised ads.
You will also want to disable using the advertising ID for experiences across apps in your privacy settings. Select “General” under the privacy section of settings, then turn off the feature.
While you are in “General” privacy settings, you might also want to consider disabling some other functions, including turning off sending Microsoft information about your typing and writing.
Then you will want to scroll down to “Other Devices” and disable syncing with other wireless devices. This will make it so your device doesn’t connect with beacons, which are usually used for advertising purposes.
Under the privacy tab you can also turn off location tracking and customise which apps you want accessing specific data or functions on your phone. For example, you can choose which apps you want having access to your calendar and contact information as well as which ones can use your camera, microphone and messaging.
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