Microsoft Admits Some Data Collection Can't be Disabled, Doesn't Consider it a Privacy Concern

Published: November 2, 2015 6:35 PM /


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Windows 10 has drawn criticism over privacy concerns for months now, including the widely reported claims that Microsoft still collects data even if all the settings are set to turn off data collection. PCWorld set up an interview with Microsoft Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore to shed some light on this issue.

Many Windows 10 applications, like Cortana will collect data by default, but can be turned off if the user digs into the settings. However, Belfiore confirms that there is some data collection that will always occur, and can not be toggled off. He claims it is basic telemetry, things like when and how the OS crashes, which will provide useful information to improve the user experience. Defending the collection of telemetry he stated, "And in the case of knowing that our system that we've created is crashing, or is having serious performance problems, we view that as so helpful to the ecosystem, and so not an issue of personal privacy, that today, we collect that data so that we make that experience better for everyone."

He made it clear he does not believe this is a privacy concern because the collection of any personally identifiable data can be turned off. The telemetry data, which is always collected, is not personally identifiable, "And in the cases where we've not provided options, we feel that those things have to do with the health of the system, and are not personal information or are not related to privacy," he said.

In this situation, Microsoft has apparently decided to treat businesses differently from individuals. A blog post from late September of this year, reveals that Microsoft is planning an update later in the year to allow Enterprise editions of Windows 10 to disable the collection of telemetry data. However, it is possible Microsoft will offer the same control all Windows 10 users if the there is a widespread demand for it. Belfiore suggests that Microsoft takes user feedback seriously. "We're going to continue to listen to what the broad public says about these decisions, and ultimately our goal is to balance the right thing happening for the most people -- really, for everyone -- with complexity that comes with putting in a whole lot of control," he said.

Is the collection of telemetry a privacy concern or is it perfectly reasonable? Leave your comments below.


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I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.