Windows Telemetry has been getting a lot of media coverage recently because of growing concerns about privacy. As Microsoft moves forwards with its “Windows as a Service” engineering model, the company has built an entirely new telemetry system for Windows 10.
While Windows 10 has mostly received positive reactions from users, some IT specialists are now trying to raise awareness about the risks associated with Windows Telemetry. With this new telemetry system, you can minimize data collection, but you can’t entirely turn it off. Any industry specialist worried about possible implications for Windows users’ privacy.
Before we get into the risks of the updated telemetry system, let’s discuss what Windows Telemetry is and what it is supposed to do.
What is Windows Telemetry?
Windows 10 Telemetry system collects your basic system diagnostics information. In addition, it keeps track of how frequently you use certain features, applications, and other essential information. The Telemetry feature is split into three tiers.
- Basic – collects data on security settings, quality-related information, and application compatibility.
- Enhanced – collects the same data as the Basic tier + details on how Windows and Windows apps are used.
- Full – collects the same data as the Basic+Enhance tiers and other details necessary to identify and fix the problem. “Full” is the default setting for Windows 10.
According to InvestmentWatch, the typed text on the keyboard, data collected via a microphone, transcripts of what you say while using Cortana, index of all media files, 35 MB of data from your webcam when you first enable it, and the essential telemetry data is transmitted back to the company when using new telemetry.
Why are IT Specialists Concerned?
This new telemetry system, codenamed “Asimov,” is built to instantly send the OS team the details of what’s happening to users’ machines. According to the Microsoft team, this is done to collect more data more efficiently to understand which of its features are working and which are not.
Telemetry data can be used to quickly find and fix bugs, a prevalent problem for Microsoft.
For the last few years, Microsoft has received a lot of criticism for issuing defective patches and updates. But, according to the company, their new telemetry system responds to that criticism.
So many IT specialists are concerned because while you can clear the data by signing into the Microsoft dashboard with your credential, you can’t automatically turn off this feature.
Additionally, on Windows 10 telemetry system is on by default. Its previous telemetry systems, specifically Windows Error Reporting, were an opt-in feature.
To respond to the backlash and address the concerns, Microsoft published a TechNet article detailing how to disable some features for Enterprise users. However, we haven’t seen a dedicated theme for individual users.
They have also publicly stated that the telemetry system is designed to prevent privacy breaches. Despite these statements, one can never be sure that big companies are not abusing their data. Therefore, It’s essential to take matters into your own hands if you want to be safe online.
You can do that by investing in a good antivirus, getting yourself a VPN on your router and computer, and always taking a cautionary approach when dealing with privacy settings online or on your device so your data stays private.
While Microsoft has already received a fair share of criticisms, some industry experts disagree with the opinion that the new telemetry system poses a threat to personal privacy. Some IT specialists say that since users can minimize the data tracking to zero, there is no genuine issue here. Meanwhile, others are ringing the alarm, saying this is a clear danger to users’ privacy.
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