- 1 Have you read the Windows 10 Privacy Statement?
- 2 What kind of information is Microsoft collecting about me?
- 3 How is Microsoft using my private information?
- 4 How to control Windows 10 Privacy
- 5 Do I need to worry about Windows 10 Privacy?
- 6 Found any other essential Windows 10 Privacy settings?
Have you read the Windows 10 Privacy Statement?
There is a good chance you haven't read the Windows 10 Privacy Statement. Not because you don't care about your privacy, or you blindly click "accept" to any legal document online, but because it is somewhat hidden.
We are not talking about the license terms - which also contain important information, but of a different nature.
If we selected the "Upgrade this PC" option through the tool, there is no other mention to the Windows 10 Privacy Statement.
Alternatively, if we created an installation media, we will find the Privacy Statement at the "Download updates" screen, which will open a pop-up window with a non-clickable URL:
If we booted with an installation media, to do a clean installation, we would find the Privacy statement, of all places, at the product key screen. This time, with no way to access it whatsoever, other than writing it down.
Microsoft seems to be going out of its way so that we don't read the Windows 10 Privacy Statement.
They might have a reason not to be upfront, with all the personal information they are collecting.
What kind of information is Microsoft collecting about me?
It's not an exaggeration to claim that Microsoft only collects data about one thing: everything. This is just part of what the company is collecting:
Microsoft, with their current Windows 10 Privacy Statement, seems determined to learn more about us than we know ourselves.
How is Microsoft using my private information?
It's no secret why every major tech company (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.) is after our personal information: ad revenue.
Yes, we understand that ads are what is driving the largest percentage of the Internet - and our website is not an exception. Without ads, most sites would probably become subscription-based, and thus inaccessible to part of the population, as opposed to open for everyone.
However, sorry Microsoft, by showing more "relevant" ads you are not doing us any favors. You just favor your bottom-line.
Also, Microsoft has retained the right to disclose our data when they feel like it:
How to control Windows 10 Privacy
The good thing is that by changing a few simple settings, we can disable much of the data Microsoft is collecting about us.
Disable data sync
Many of us have opted to connect to Windows 10 with our Microsoft account, and not create a Local account. Do you know what that means for our data? Just search for "Sync your settings".
Everything on this list is automatically sent to our Microsoft account.
This sync is only useful if we have two or more PCs connected to our Microsoft account. It makes sure that all of the above settings will be synchronized between the different PCs.
If we only have one PC or don't care for this feature, it's best to disable it.
We wonder, sometimes: if it weren't for decades of Science Fiction, would anybody want to talk to a machine?
With Siri and Google Now still restricted on mobile devices, Cortana is the sole Digital Assistant for the desktop.
As a Digital Assistant, it makes sense for it (or "her"? Let's go with "her") to have access to our contacts, calendar and appointments, searches, etc. It's a big part of Cortana's job to access this data for us.
But, according to the Windows 10 Privacy Statement, the reach of Cortana goes far beyond that because apparently she wants to "learn about us".
We can completely disable Cortana, by searching for "Cortana"...
...and turn off both options.
All Windows 10 Privacy Settings
The new "settings" app in Windows 10 makes it easy to control our privacy. We just search for "Privacy Settings".
Starting from "General" and working our way down, we can disable anything we are not comfortable with sharing.
The Advertising ID is probably the most important thing to disable, but going through the whole list and reading each description will help us make the right choice for every option.
Opt-out from Microsoft Personalized Ads
This is not a setting within Windows 10, per se, but it will also stop the personalized ads from Microsoft.
We just visit https://choice.microsoft.com/en-us/opt-out and select "Off" to both personalized ads, in the browser, and when we use our Microsoft account. We need to sign in with our Microsoft account to change the second option.
Do I need to worry about Windows 10 Privacy?
The above list might seem a lot, but it is important to understand that Microsoft isn't the first company to collect so much personal information, and it won't be the last. The Facebook Data Policy isn't any better, and we have already seen that Google saves everything we have ever searched for while connected.
Yes, privacy is an important subject, and we should be aware of what we are sharing with companies and people. But if you want the perfect privacy, there are not many solutions other than shutting down technology altogether.
Or install Linux, access the net always through a VPN, search only on DuckDuckGo, throw away our smartphone, and only join social media with fake information. That would probably work too although it sounds like a Faraday cage away from severe paranoia.
Found any other essential Windows 10 Privacy settings?
If you think we missed anything regarding the Windows 10 privacy settings, leave us a comment.