France Orders Microsoft to Fix 'Invasive' Windows 10

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windowsIf you’ve installed Windows 10 on your PC, you’re already well aware of how much it loves your data. When you first set up the OS, it will walk you through approving a laundry list of default settings that will collect just about every piece of information on your PC unless you specifically disallow them.

While American regulators seem pretty content to let Microsoft just do its thing, France has had enough. Regulators there have given the company three months to improve privacy, after which the kid gloves may come off.

The chair of France's National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) issued a statement yesterday (July 20) that accuses Microsoft of "collecting excessive data and tracking browsing by users without their consent." Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, the chairwoman herself, lobbied tough but arguably fair accusations at the Windows manufacturer.

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According to the CNIL, Microsoft collects "irrelevant or excessive data," including app installation and utilization metrics on a user-by-user basis. Windows 10 also lacks adequate security, as it allows even users with full administrative access to log in using just a four-digit PIN, but then places no limits on how many wrong PINs may be entered without penalty.

By default, Windows 10 also allows third-party advertisers to track users without their consent, and the OS itself has no built-in protection against invasive cookies.

For European users, there’s one additional problem: Microsoft, a U.S.-based company, also transports personal information outside of the EU under the transatlantic "Safe Harbor" agreement regarding compliance of U.S. companies with EU laws protecting user data.

That agreement, however, was set aside by a court ruling in October 2015. Whatever Microsoft plans to do with the data, it’s supposedly now being obtained under questionable means while negotiators and bureaucrats work out the details of a new agreement known as the U.S.-EU Privacy Shield.

Falque-Pierrotin has given Microsoft three months to clean up its act before she "may appoint an internal investigator, who may draw up a report proposing that the CNIL … issue a sanction against the company." That's not a direct legal threat, but it's probably a hassle that Microsoft wants to avoid.

Indeed, Microsoft responded to the CNIL in a statement, promising to "work closely with the CNIL over the next few months." However, Microsoft denies that its safe-harbor data transfer is in violation of any European laws, stating that its upcoming Privacy Shield adoption should allay concerns over the international data flow. (Privacy Shield aims to replace Safe Harbor with a more comprehensive online privacy framework.)

The good news is that Microsoft will probably be true to its word and work with the EU to improve its privacy option. The bad news is that there's no real reason why Microsoft would have to do the same in the U.S. Stateside users will have to continue being vigilant in the meantime.

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  • Richard Says:

    @Eo-Raptor: and even more good things:

    1. GNU+Linux does not spy on you. If you can read computer-code then you can obtain the source-code for any of the open-source bits that you use and see what's in it, see what it does, see who it's talking to, modify it anyway you like, etcetera etcetera.

    2. GNU+Linux is also absolutely free (both "free"-as-in-"freedom" and "free"-as-in-"$0.00"), with certain exceptions of course; distributions that charge money (like the "Ultimate" version of Zorin OS, or Red-Hat-Linux-Enterprise, aren't $0.00 up-front).

    3. GNU+Linux is much less "hoggy" on your computer-hardware[-and-software] resources than Microsoft Windows.

    4. When you compare them side by side (ie. have both installed on the same computer-hardware/computer, for a "see how it performs against the competition in the exact same computer/computer-hardware" comparison), it is much more stable than Microsoft Windows.

    5. I don't get any "uh uh uh, you can't delete that file because a program is currently using it", even though there's NO PROGRAMS OPEN O_O .

    6. I have much less problems transferring large files (and/or massive amounts of multiple-files) in the GNU+Linux distro's file-manager than I do in Windows-Explorer or My-Computer. (aka. remember how in Windows98 we had to have TeraCopy (or was it called "TetraCopy"?) to do that stuff without any problems, and also, to make sure that we got the FULL file transferred instead of just "ALMOST all" of it?).

    7. No backdoors. No built-in/comes-preinstalled-with-the-OS spyware. No malware. No built-in/comes-preinstalled-with-the-OS malware.

    8. No restrictive licensing terms that allows you to use only one copy of the software (ie. the software-CD itself) per computer.

    9. No restrictive licensing-terms that forces you to reinstall the operating-system all over again when you do something as plain [and/or simple] as changing your motherboard, your sound card, your video card, or some other thing "more 'complicated' " (in Microsoft's terms/way-of-looking-at-it/viewpoint) than adding another RAM-module to your computer.

    10. Install, Uninstall, and Reinstall the operating-system as many times as you want (hell, until you get fed-up even), WITHOUT having to "reactivate" the operating-system EVER. (like it happened to me after a reinstalling Microsoft Windows XP Pro 32-bit on my old Toshiba Satellite after doing several repairs and replacements-of-broken-components on it) (heat-dissipation system and cooling-fan was busted. Had to upgrade the RAM to the maximum that the motherboard would allow. I upgraded to a much bigger hard-drive (from the 40GB Parallel-ATA-interface hard-drive that it came with), etcetera etcetera).

    There's a ton more to mention here but ooof, it could take all day [for me to mention them all] lol.

  • JuanSoto Says:

    They shouldn't be given 3 months to "improve" these privacy issues. They are both ethically and legally wrong. Windows 10 should be banned. Every forced upgrade should be met with enormous fines.

    I could talk about other OSes and online services but this is an article specifically about Windows 10.

  • Eo Raptor Says:

    I've completely had it with Microsoft's shenanigans. Their dictatorial, consumers don't count, attitude started waaay back when the company mantra was that Excel wasn't fixed until Lotus was broken. They've only gotten worse since. When they tried to force Win 10 on me, I gave up and installed Linux on all five of my various computers. No BS, no default settings that steal your data, no applications that become incompatible between one version and the next.

    Free the information!

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