Microsoft Tries To Soothe Regulators And Critics With New Privacy Controls

To address criticism from regulators and public policy groups, Microsoft is making some changes in its privacy practices.

Of all the body blows Microsoft has absorbed in the past 18 months over Windows 10, the criticisms of its privacy policies have to sting the most.

Last summer, the French National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) issued a formal notice against Microsoft, ordering that the company "stop collecting excessive data and tracking browsing by users without their consent."

The CNIL found Microsoft's collection of diagnostic information (so-called telemetry) acceptable but said that the default settings for Windows 10 go too far. The complaint singled out Microsoft's practice of collecting information about app usage as "excessive."

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>Is Windows 10 telemetry a threat to your personal privacy?

Is Windows 10 telemetry a threat to your personal privacy?

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A month later, the Electronic Freedom Foundation took aim at Windows 10 with a signed editorial criticizing the company for "disregarding user choice" and sending "an unprecedented amount of usage data back to Microsoft...." As I noted at the time, EFF was especially critical of Microsoft's telemetry collection policies.

After months of explaining and defending its policies, publicly and in meetings with regulators, the company today announced that it's making a series of privacy-related moves. Terry Myerson, who runs the Windows and Devices Group, made the announcement in a blog post:

Many of you have asked for more control over your data, a greater understanding of how data is collected, and the benefits this brings for a more personalized experience. Based on your feedback, we are launching two new experiences to help ensure you are in control of your privacy.

First, today we're launching a new web-based privacy dashboard so you can see and control your activity data from Microsoft including location, search, browsing and Cortana Notebook data across multiple Microsoft services. Second, we're introducing in Windows 10 a new privacy set up experience, simplifying Diagnostic data levels and further reducing the data collected at the Basic level.

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