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Microsoft accused of ‘blatantly disregarding’ user choice and privacy with Windows 10

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No Windows 10

Microsoft has taken another hammering from a privacy rights group over its attempts to force Windows 10 onto PC users, as well as its practice of harvesting acres of data from software use.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says Microsoft’s efforts to reach 1 billion users with Windows 10 by the end of 2018 resulted in the firm ‘blatantly disregarding’ user choice.

Over the last 12 months Redmond introduced a number of heavily criticized systems to tempt Windows users into the update, which was free for the first year.

Related: Windows 10 review: Does the Anniversary update make it worth upgrading?

Time after time, with each update, Microsoft chose to employ questionable tactics to cause users to download a piece of software that many didn’t want. What users actually wanted didn’t seem to matter,” the EFF writes in a highly critical blog post.

“In an extreme case, members of a wildlife conservation group in the African jungle felt that the automatic download of Windows 10 on a limited bandwidth connection could have endangered their lives if a forced upgrade had begun during a mission.”

Microsoft had sought to get Windows 10 onto PCs in a number of ways, including pre-downloading the software onto user’s machines, bundling ads into security updates and attempting to trick them by altering the way its Windows Update dialogue boxes functioned.

The EFF also had strong words for the way Windows 10, and the Cortana assistant in particular, sends an “unprecedented amount of usage data back to” home base for personalization purposes.

The blog added: “Here’s a non-exhaustive list of data sent back: location data, text input, voice input, touch input, webpages you visit, and telemetry data regarding your general usage of your computer, including which programs you run and for how long.”

Although users are able to opt out of this feedback, the EFF says there’s no guarantees the computers will halt communications with Microsoft’s servers.

The EFF has called on Microsoft to come clean with its community, offer proper outs for those who don’t want to share data, and try not to “bypass user choice and privacy expectations.”

“Microsoft may find that it has inadvertently discovered just how far it can push its users before they abandon a once-trusted company for a better, more privacy-protective solution,” ends the blog.

Have you had enough of Microsoft’s Windows 10 force feeding? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Gmatix

August 19, 2016, 9:29 am

The methods they used to install windows 10 are no less that Malware techniques. If it was any other company doing it then people would says so.

Tolu Abisola

August 19, 2016, 11:52 am

This is pretty damming which ever way you spin it.

Bugblatter

August 19, 2016, 11:55 am

Apple forced a free U2 album on millions of people. Remember the furor about that? Seems a bit silly now.

Microsoft needs to stop making other companies look good in comparison.

A companion article about how to stop this data being sent would be useful btw. I've opted out of everything I've come across but who knows what I've missed? (Answer: not me)

Kandris Kinapreves

August 19, 2016, 4:35 pm

Win10 has alot of good things in it but how can it be trusted? It is no doubt spyware for the US gov. The most disturbing aspect is that even after a year+ of it being out nobody knows what it really does and how invasive it actually is. What I would like to see is some sort of mod that can gut Win10 into something more secure.

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