Microsoft responds to accusations of massive data collection on Windows 10

Windows 10

When it comes to buying a phone, tablet, or computer, one of the major choices is which operating system do you want to run it. Windows 10 is a big player when it comes to desktops and laptops, but recent investigations into data sharing from the system have turned up some troubling evidence, which Microsoft has now responded to.

Windows 10 is the new operating system which worked to undo all the issues people had with Windows 8. Originally, it was hailed as a big step towards what people wanted, moving away from the clunky UI that Windows 8 was infamous for and saw the resurrection of the much loved Start Menu.

People had been using Windows 10 for several months before it was uncovered on Voat that the systems were sending off data to Microsoft servers thousands of times a day, even when all the telemetry options were switched to off.

Data is a bit of a taboo in modern life. When we are constantly connected by our phones, laptops and tablets, data about us and the way we work and live is constantly being generated and is somewhat up for grabs. As a society, we like our privacy, and so this can be a touchy subject.

Voat user CheesusCrust reported that they found that their system sent data to 51 Microsoft IP addresses, and to 113 non-private IP addresses, across thirty hours. What’s more, the system was said to make contact with these 5500 times across that range of time.

This was with the three pages of telemetry data options toggled to ‘off’.

As well as the issue of a company garnering colossal amounts of data on each individual using their system, the linking to the non-private IP addresses raises concern for security, and whether hackers would be able to access them.

Microsoft eventually responded on the issue to Forbes journalist Gordon Kelly. They said that they would now look into the issue and said that they would release updates later this year to increase a user’s control over telemetry data.

However, it is important to note that this form of data tracking is perfectly legal, as it is set out in the End User Licence Agreement (EULA) which comes with Windows 10 (one of those terms and conditions type pages which people rarely ever read).

Furthermore, Microsoft have stressed that the data collected reports on the ways in which the system is used and identifies any errors and improvements that can be made, not on the people using the machines.

While waiting for these improved telemetry control updates, you can reduce the amount of data that Microsoft receive by going to Settings -> Privacy -> Feedback and Diagnostic, and change the option under “Send your device data to Microsoft” to “Basic”. This will reduce the amount that gets sent off, although won’t stop it entirely.