Many users of Microsoft's Windows 10 have unknowingly agreed to have the system gather their private data including contact details, passwords, demographic data and credit card information.
Microsoft does indeed warn the users about what it plans to do once they install the software, albeit in a 45-page terms and conditions package that few users are likely to read in full.
By clicking the ‘I accept’ button, the user gives Microsoft the permission to save his or her conversations, Bing searches, email contents, private folder contents and all websites and applications visited.
Newsweek highlighted that the technology giant even has the user agree that their typed and handwritten notes would be collected in order to allow the tech giant to provide a personalised user dictionary to help with typing and better character recognition.
There is no stated guarantee that the data collected will remain solely with Microsoft. The firm uses data for three purposes and providing improved services is only one of them. The other two are personalised advertising and promotions from the company itself as well as from third parties. This arrangement sometimes requires the firm to share its data with those third parties.
The company says it is not using the immediate contents of the emails, chat, video calls or documents for targeted advertising, but will disclose the private content in case of valid legal processes.
However, Microsoft is not the only one updating its terms and conditions in order to give itself more rights over the user content.
Google’s Privacy Terms also show that the firm is analysing user content to ‘provide a better, more personalised product’.
Even though users may be able to opt out of some of Microsoft's data collection practices, some experts have warned that Windows 10 makes it more complicated for the user to protect his or her privacy.
“The Windows 10 upgrade experience...strips users of their choice by effectively overriding existing user preferences,” Chris Beard, CEO of the Mozilla Corporation, told Newsweek.
“It now takes more than twice the number of mouse clicks, scrolling through content and some technical sophistication for people to reassert the choices they had previously made in earlier versions of Windows.”
According to a statement of Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, Horacio Gutierrez, the Privacy Statement is a “straightforward resource for understanding Microsoft’s commitments for protecting individual privacy.”
Users have countered that in the 45-page document and opt-out settings, the right settings are difficult to find.
Further concerns have been raised about the firm’s ability to protect the data against hackers.