Aug 02

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The Surveillance State Goes Mainstream: Windows 10 Is Watching (& Logging) Everything (ZeroHedge, Aug 2, 2015):

If Edward Snowden’s patriotic exposure of all things ‘super secret surveillance state’ in America were not enough, Newsweek reports that, as 10s of millions of hungry PC users download the free upgrade, Windows 10 is watching – and logging and sharing – everything users do… and we mean everything.

From the moment an account is created, Microsoft begins watching. The company saves customers’ basic information – name, contact details, passwords, demographic data and credit card specifics – but it also digs a bit deeper… and finding answers is not easy, as one privacy expert exclaimed, “there is no world in which 45 pages of policy documents and opt-out settings split across 13 different Settings screens and an external website constitutes ‘real transparency’.”

As NewsWeek reports,

More than 14 million devices are already running Microsoft’s Windows 10 after its global launch on Wednesday, but it’s unclear how many of their users read the company’s Privacy Policy and Service Agreement before downloading. Tucked away in the 45 pages’ worth of terms and conditions (effective August 1) is a substantial power grab: The company is collecting data on much of what you do while using its new software.

From the moment an account is created, Microsoft begins watching. The company saves customers’ basic information – name, contact details, passwords, demographic data and credit card specifics – but it also digs a bit deeper.

Other information Microsoft saves includes Bing search queries and conversations with the new digital personal assistant Cortana; contents of private communications such as email; websites and apps visited (including features accessed and length of time used); and contents of private folders. Furthermore, “your typed and handwritten words are collected,” the Privacy Statement says, which many online observers liken to a keylogger. Microsoft says they collect the information “to provide you a personalized user dictionary, help you type and write on your device with better character recognition, and provide you with text suggestions as you type or write.”

All this information doesn’t necessarily remain with just Microsoft. The company says it uses the data collected for three purposes: to provide and improve its services; to send customers personalized promotions; and to display targeted advertising, which sometimes requires the information be shared with third parties.

Though possibly surprising to some, the company’s data collection practices fit within the industry’s new normal.

Also like its competitors, Microsoft says it will disclose content of private communications or files in saved documents to “respond to valid legal process.” In the company’s latest bi-annual transparency report released in late March, it disclosed that of the 31,002 government requests for information received between June and December 2014, it disclosed content of personal communications in 3.36 percent of cases and non-content data in 73.17 percent.

Microsoft didn’t respond to requests for comment about specifics of the privacy terms, but in a blog post introducing them, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, Horacio Gutierrez, calls the Privacy Statement a “straightforward resource for understanding Microsoft’s commitments for protecting individual privacy.” Alex Meer of the gaming website Rock Paper Shotgun countered, “There is no world in which 45 pages of policy documents and opt-out settings split across 13 different Settings screens and an external website constitutes ‘real transparency’.”

Read more here…

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In other words, big brother is very much here… and we invited into our homes for free.

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