Security

Microsoft extending GDPR protections to all global customers, here's how

The tech giant now gives users the ability to transfer or delete all of the data it has collected through its programs, apps, and search engines.

Microsoft said it will give all of its users across the world many of the same protections enshrined in the EU's impending General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into effect on May 25.

The passing and enforcement of the GDPR has become somewhat of a watershed moment for privacy as consumers gain a fuller picture of the data tech companies collect on a daily basis. In a statement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella laid out the plethora of ways they gather information and either use it themselves or offer it to other companies.

Nadella said Microsoft collects data on your web browsing and online searchers, places you go using map apps, Windows 10 and any of your online services, fitness and health apps, any ads you click on, sign-in, and payment data. The firm also leverages any connected device sensors you may have in your home or car, according to the statement.

SEE: Getting ready for the GDPR: An IT leader's guide (Tech Pro Research)

But users now have access to a privacy dashboard that allows you to easily regulate or opt out of any data collection. You can delete all of your search history and data or move it somewhere else.

"We believe privacy is a fundamental human right. As people live more of their lives online and depend more on technology to operate their businesses, engage with friends and family, pursue opportunities, and manage their health and finances, the protection of this right is becoming more important than ever," Julie Brill, corporate vice president of Microsoft, said in a blog post. "Today we are announcing that we will extend the rights that are at the heart of GDPR to all of our consumer customers worldwide. Known as Data Subject Rights, they include the right to know what data we collect about you, to correct that data, to delete it and even to take it somewhere else."

Other tech giants have struggled to comply with the regulations soon to take effect, and have waffled on whether their users worldwide will be given the same rights and options as those in the EU.

Just last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was criticized for demuring when asked whether US users would get access to GDPR rights. In response to an uproar after his comments, he said, "We intend to make all the same controls and settings available everywhere, not just in Europe. Is it going to be exactly the same format? Probably not."

Analysts and journalists have noted that despite some cosmetic changes, Facebook still makes it very difficult for users to opt out of its robust data collection efforts. In their review of Facebook's privacy changes, TechCrunch noted that "the fact that the button to reject the new Terms Of Service isn't even a button, it's a tiny 'see your options' hyperlink shows how badly Facebook wants to avoid you closing your account."

"It seems obvious that Facebook is trying to minimize the visibility of the path to account deletion rather than making it an obvious course of action if you don't agree to its terms," TechCrunch later added.

Microsoft is also gaining business through their GDPR compliance services, which are available for businesses of all sizes.

Many tech companies will likely release new service agreements on Friday and have already made changes to how they notify you of what data they collect and share with third parties.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:
  • Microsoft is giving all of its users worldwide the same rights and access afforded to those living in the EU under the GDPR, which will come into effect on Friday.
  • Users will now be able to control what information Microsoft can collect from them and delete it, or move it elsewhere.

Also see

GDPR
Image: iStockphoto/nevarpp

About Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig is a freelance journalist based in New York City. He recently returned to the United States after reporting from South Africa, Jordan, and Cambodia since 2013.

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