Dutch Data Protection Agency Says Windows 10 Still Violates Privacy

Posted on August 28, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 28 Comments

The Dutch Data Protection Agency (DDA) announced today that Windows 10 is still in violation of European Union privacy laws. And it is requesting further changes to the ways in which Windows 10 collects data.

Despite complying with previous requests for the rampant data collection in Windows 10, a recent “check brought to light that Microsoft is remotely collecting other data from users,” a DDA statement notes. “As a result, Microsoft is still potentially in breach of privacy rules.”

The DDA forwarded its findings to its Irish counterpart, the Irish Data Protection Committee (DPC).

“The DPC has had preliminary engagement with Microsoft and, with the assistance of the Dutch authority, we will shortly be engaging further with Microsoft to seek substantive responses on the concerns raised,” a DPC statement adds.

Microsoft continues to say it is committed to its users’ privacy and that it has improved the privacy protections in Windows 10 over the past few years.

“We welcome the opportunity to improve even more the tools and choices we offer to these users,” a Microsoft statement says in response to the charges.

Ah boy. Here we go again: More tools and choices.

Microsoft’s response to EU privacy concerns has always been consistent: The firm keeps adding new privacy interfaces to the system that don’t actually change what Windows 10 collects, but rather simply better documents it. I call this behavior “privacy theater” as it’s the technological equivalent of waiving one’s hands to redirect the viewer’s attention.

Windows 10’s data collection is, of course, mostly benign and designed to provide Microsoft with the data it needs to improve its platform. But the software giant could make all of these problems go away by simply giving users a way to turn off data collection. It has steadfastly refused to do so, regardless of the number of Windows 10 users—now over 830 million—and that most users would obviously just leave data collection on, unaware of the issue.

Instead, we get privacy theater. So we can look forward to more “tools and choices”—further complicating the user experience—instead of meaningful change.

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