Security

Why EU watchdogs say Windows 10 is still a major privacy concern

Microsoft made some attempts to clarify its data collection policies in Windows 10, but some EU watchdogs said that it isn't enough.

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Image: CNET

Despite recent updates to its privacy controls, Windows 10 data collection policies are still a privacy concern for some EU watchdogs. In a Reuters report on Monday, the Article 29 Working Party explained that it doesn't feel that Microsoft's use of personal data is clearly defined.

"In light of the above, which are separate to the results of ongoing inquiries at a national level, even considering the proposed changes to Windows 10, the Working Party remains concerned about the level of protection of users' personal data," the group said in a statement to Reuters.

According to Reuters, the watchdog group is made up of "28 authorities responsible for enforcing data protection law" in the EU. The group had previously written to Microsoft with concerns about default privacy settings and a perceived lack of user control over how data was handled.

SEE: Windows 10: The smart person's guide

This isn't the first time that Microsoft has been called out over privacy concerns with its OS. In July 2016, the French National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) issued a formal notice against Microsoft, ordering the company to "stop collecting excessive data and tracking browsing by users without their consent."

The most recent Microsoft privacy updates, announced in January 2017, added new privacy options and removed certain data collection processes from the "Basic" security setting. The changes caused Swiss data protection and privacy regulator FDPIC to drop its lawsuit, but the Article 29 Working Party said it wants more clarification.

"Microsoft should clearly explain what kinds of personal data are processed for what purposes. Without such information, consent cannot be informed, and therefore, not valid," the group said in its statement to Reuters.

Although, in its statement, the group did acknowledge Microsoft's "willingness to cooperate."

Windows 10 has received backlash over its perceived privacy violations since its launch in late 2015. While there are ways to lock down certain settings, there is still confusion over what, exactly, the OS collects, and how the data is used.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Despite updates to its privacy settings, the Article 29 Working Party wants more clarification on what personal data Windows 10 collects and uses.
  2. Other groups such as CNIL and FDPIC have pushed back against Microsoft as well, with CNIL going as far as to order the company to stop collecting data.
  3. Windows 10 has received backlash over potential privacy violations from the start, with many users concerned about how their data is being used.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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