Head for the hills, folks! Another privacy controversy has hit Microsoft, after it was discovered that Windows 10 continues to send data to the cloud even when you have the switch off.
What a way to wrap a year where Redmond rolled out a dedicated Privacy Dashboard for users.
At the same time, things are so convoluted in Windows 10 with its myriad switches and toggles that something serious like this slipped through.
This is how the story went.
A Redditor discovered that the operating system was tracking his Activity History, even when he had turned it off in the Settings panel. The change apparently had no effect on the collection and display of activity data, even when Activity History was disabled through the Group Policy editor.
As for what data is collected, think the websites you visit, the apps you run.
The reason for that is that this intelligence is used for the Timeline feature in the operating system that allows users to resume what they were doing on another device.
This feature was, of course, introduced with the April 2018 Update, and many privacy conscious users disabled it so as not to hand over their personal information to Microsoft — even if it was to be used for the Timeline.
What apparently caused this ruckus was that these users had the diagnostic data collection on their devices set to Full, instead of Basic.
And this is how this activity reached Microsoft servers.
Of course, the company provides the complete details of the data that is collects under this setting.
However, episodes like this add to the privacy concerns of users, privacy watchdogs and governments. Microsoft should have done a much better job settings things up, as well as communicating with users about how this setting may fail when the diagnostic data collection is set to Full.
In any case, this goes to show that Redmond still has a long way to go to completely alleviate the concerns of users with regards to what information is collected from them and how it is used.
A long way to go.