back to article EU privacy gurus peer at Windows 10, still don't like what they see

The EU’s top privacy body has been probing Windows 10, but isn’t satisfied, even after Microsoft agreed to tweak the consent settings. Microsoft unveiled new privacy controls as part of its forthcoming “Creators Update” to Windows 10 due this spring. However, Reuters reports that the Article 29 Working Party, which represents …

  1. Dwarf Silver badge

    Even if they are forced to back down, they've already got the data on all those people they are abusing with Windows 10 ?

    Can we actually trust any of the mega corps to remove the data when they are told to, after all we've seen time and time again that supposedly deleted data wasn't

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can we actually trust any of the mega corps to remove the data when they are told to, after all we've seen time and time again that supposedly deleted data wasn't

      The blunt and simple answer is "no" unless the companies in question have also implemented an audit process which is executed by independent 3rd parties, by preference NOT paid by the same organisation (one of the problems with company audits).

      There is no viable argument to believe any assertion by companies that pertains to protecting your rights if said assertion conflicts with their ability to derive a profit from it. Ever.

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Deleted personal data is the only thing that is properly backed up and always recoverable.

        Trigonoceps' First Law of Data Storage.

        If you want to make sure that your raid never fails ensure there is a deleted personal data partition on it.

        Trigonoceps' Second Law of Data Storage.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "Can we actually trust any of the mega corps to remove the data"

      Of course no. Ebay, for example, terminated my account because I didn't use it for a while. I wasn't unable to reset the password using the username or email, but when I tried through PayPal, it returned as the account name as <number>@deleted and the email address I used - but it didn't re-activated the account and suggested me to call support. It is clear the account wasn't deleted, and my data still there, although not accessible by me. Guess I will go through my country privacy law to ask for a full removal of my data, and see what happens...

      1. Jonathan 27

        Re: "Can we actually trust any of the mega corps to remove the data"

        Most computer systems are backed by relational databases, if you've ever had any transactions on eBay, eBay can't remove your account without removing all records of any transaction you had on eBay. Because of this you can't actually delete your account in any web application you've ever used, at least not until every single record your user was ever attached to has been archived, which in most cases will NEVER actually happen.

        They best they can do is just set the fields for your personal information to something else, they may have already done that and legally that is all they have to do.

        1. eldakka Silver badge

          Re: "Can we actually trust any of the mega corps to remove the data"

          You can selectively delete parts of those tables tho.

          For example, there'd be a unique ID (a key) that us used to relate your customer identity details (name, address, DoB, etc etc) with the transactions. And any eBay transaction (bid, winning bid, etc) won't have your identity details in it, it will have the unique ID, the key, which is then used to pull out the identity details to list it with a purchase for example.

          So while the TRANSACTIONS won't be deleted, or the keys (unique IDs), the data within the identity tables can be deleted (or replaced with NULL or a standard string like, "DELETED").

          Therefore while all the transactions are still there (since they involve other people who might still want to know ID XYZ bought/sold the item), the individual identifying information can be deleted from a relational-based database (or any other for that matter), so rather than seeing "John Doe of 2343 Wanking Ave, Cayman Is. won the bid for Fleshlight", you'd see "345428946593 won the bid for Fleshlight".

      2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: "Can we actually trust any of the mega corps to remove the data"

        There is a conflict with this kind of situation. If, for example, data is deleted and the tax authorities descend on ebay then that very same data needs to be accessible (for at least six financial years). It could be argued that the information can be anonymised by replacing John Smith with custid1234, but there may be complex relationships between customers and the organisation being scrutinised that needs that non-anonymised connection. A possible example might be VAT fraud - there would need to be a tie-up between their anonymised data and data that nails someone's identity, such as a VAT registration number. Where does one set the boundary point between anonymised and non-anonymised information?

    3. chivo243 Silver badge

      @Dwarf

      even if they say they did, some middle manager probably "forgot" to also remove it from the back up system. Yes, the data is off of our servers.... You didn't mention tapes...

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Off the servers is one thing

        but deleted from all Historical backups? Are you having a larf?

        As for that, how many people here have used the wayback archive?

        Sometimes it is great to know that someting hasn't entirely gone to the bitbucket in the sky.

      2. Captain DaFt

        "even if they say they did, some middle manager probably "forgot" to also remove it from the back up system. Yes, the data is off of our servers.... You didn't mention tapes..."

        And even if they could prove all your data had been deleted by them from all their servers and backups, How about those third party partners they've shared (sold) your data to prior to deletion?

  2. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge
    Unhappy

    What information does Win 10 slurp?

    Does anybody know what information Windows 10 actually slurps? I don't use it (I use Win 7 and Linux Mint).

    I refuse to use Win 10 (with the exception of my employer, where I have no choice) and Win 7 is now my last MS OS. I only use it because there are two programs I use that are not available for Linux.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

      Does anybody know what information Windows 10 actually slurps? I don't use it (I use Win 7 and Linux Mint).

      I'd welcome an indication of that too, but the problem is that you hit the one area where Microsoft HAS improved security because it affects them making a profit (the quality of customer protection has never influenced their profit, which is why that has never seen that much improvement).

    2. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

      Win 7? Uh-oh...

      ...http://www.ghacks.net/2015/08/28/microsoft-intensifies-data-collection-on-windows-7-and-8-systems/

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

      https://privacy.microsoft.com/en-us/privacystatement

      Enjoy, it's a long read, and that's only the public statement...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Dwarf Silver badge

          Re: Win 7? Uh-oh...

          Thats why scripts such as this one exist - it removes the telemetry from Windows 7 and 8.1

          Telemetry remover for Win7 / 8.1

          There appear to be others too.

        2. Infernoz Bronze badge

          Re: Win 7? Uh-oh...

          Some of the Windows 10 lock-down tools will also work with earlier OSs and have config. files which can be re-purposed. A lot can be done by blocking several dubious Microsoft domains in the OS (e.g. the hosts file) or in better routers.

      2. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

        OK: that is what they say. How can an owner of a MS Windows 10 machine actually see (read) what is being sent to Redmond ? Until the owner can see (in plain text - with good documentation that fully describes the XML or whatever) then it is not transparent.

      3. Vimes

        Re: What information does Win 10 slurp? @LDS

        From the privacy statement:

        'We also obtain data from third parties.'

        I wonder who these 'third parties' are and what data is being shared with them? For that matter has consent been gained from the user to share it with Microsoft in the first place?

      4. DanceMan

        Re: Win 7? Uh-oh...

        I use DWS, which makes changes that block the data slurping.

      5. Captain DaFt

        Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

        "https://privacy.microsoft.com/en-us/privacystatement

        Enjoy, it's a long read, and that's only the public statement..."

        I prefer the musical version

    4. big_D Silver badge

      Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

      At the most basic level, if you turn on all privacy settings, about the same amount of data as Windows 7.

      If you want to use Cortana and search, then you give away more data.

      If you want personalised advertising, then you give away more data.

      If you want Edge or IE Smartscreen to protect you, you give away more data (same as Windows 7).

      etc.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

      I've just had to set up a Win10 ('Home') laptop for my wife, who frustratingly needs stuff like powerpoint for her job (no, the libreoffice equiv won't fly with her).

      During the process I was confronted with Cortana, which I attempted to remove or at least disable, only to find that in Win10 'Home' this is all but impossible.

      Apparently Cortana collects data about _everything you do_, so that it can 'help' you. GRRRRRR. It has a specific interest in flight and hotel bookings by the look of it, but it does seem all-pervasive ... its even embedded now in the bloody Win10 Netflix 'app' so that it can monitor which movies you watch AAGAGAGGAGGHHHHH!!!

      ...and the second we logged into the laptop and told it what her Hotmail address was, oh my god that really seemed to join a few dots for it and it knows a LOT about her already.

      The urge to simply wipe Win10 off the damned thing and replace with a user-friendly Linux is almost overpowering ... am thinking of paying the money for Win10 Pro, which I've found 'remove cortana' instructions for.

      Oh, and I didn't mention the bundled 'Office 365' starter which is clearly intended to push you further toward the cloud ...

      1. Down not across

        Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

        During the process I was confronted with Cortana, which I attempted to remove or at least disable, only to find that in Win10 'Home' this is all but impossible.

        I got a laptop which came with Win10 on it. I thought I'd take the opportunity to see what it was like before proceeding to wipe it (and enable to use it at least for some browsing while I work out which distro works best on it).

        Cortana (and most of the bundled basic apps) seem to take a dim view to the fact that I have not supplied it with a Microsoft account. About 80-90% of the pre-installed stuff refuse to work without MS Account. Cortana occasionally whimpers but has so far suggested nothing.

        So it appears that if you don't provide MS account and install applications the normal way (ie none of the MS cloudy stuff) it may hamper what they get. Don't use Edge either as I prefer Firefox and/or Palemoon.

        Should probably have a look with wireshark to see how much it phones home, although I suspect the contents are likely to be encrypted.

      2. Boothy

        Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

        Try https://www.oo-software.com/en/shutup10

        That disables Cortana for me, and lots of the other 'extras' you get in Win 10.

        1. Aus Tech

          Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

          Thanks for that link. Just finished running the program, and I simply don't want to believe how much MS was getting off my PC. I'll be regularly checking the settings from now on.

        2. nkuk

          Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

          It does encrypt the data that's sent back, it is also deferred making it extremely difficult to know what is being sent when.

          1. Boothy

            Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

            One little tip for the Win 10 Microsoft Account issue, is don't connect the device to the Internet until after you've finished the install/initial set-up. i.e. Don't plug in the Ethernet, or select a Wi-Fi network.

            Without Internet, Windows 10 bypasses all the Microsoft Account stuff, and only asks you to provide a local username and password.

            Obviously once set-up is complete, you can connect and do what you want afterwards.

            One additional warning for anyone using a local account in Win 10 (as I do), if you do use MS services (like XBox/hotmail/O365 etc), and you decide you want to access those services when logged in to Win 10 with the local account, be careful, as some services when adding an MS account, will ask if you want to move/convert your local account to the MS one. Don't do it, just don't!

        3. Willyn

          Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

          I too purchased a new HP win 10 second computer and tried removing the MS accounts that caused problems. I also found that I could not install SKYPE, you cannot go P2P, the moment you do MS send in a total verbal full screen block which you cannot remove or shut down the machine in the normal way and is not prevent by any type of fire wall, it advises you to call MS on 0800 ????????? or your machine will be locked for good in 5 mins. I instantly switched off everything.

          I found exactly the same refusal to to get the machine to work when I tried to disable any requests by MS for account sign ups. After a short while there came the famous BLACK screen of death. Then after 6 months without the machine while being repaired in Spain I again tried where I left off but this this time there was BLUE screen claiming that some vital program had failed. There was absolutely no way to repair it or reboot. I was totally shut out. I hate Windows 10 and want to return it to Win 7.

      3. Snake

        Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

        "During the process I was confronted with Cortana, which I attempted to remove or at least disable, only to find that in Win10 'Home' this is all but impossible."

        Absolutely 100% completely untrue.

        Start with Microsoft's built- in Cortana and general privacy settings in Win10 Home, which are a bit obtuse to locate but ARE there. Then go on to

        https://www.oo-software.com/en/shutup10

        which works perfectly with all levels of Windows 10, yes even Home.

        And then, possibly, consider never touching your wife's computer again.

        Seriously.

        You have brought up the thought of using your own anti-Microsoft bias in an attempt to force a user into a "solution" that is completely wrong for them and will not work. Rather than put in a bit of time and effort into research to find out how to manipulate the OS to your liking, some of which is built in to the UI itself. Cortana does indeed have a shut down feature within Windows, if only you'd had looked for it.

      4. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

        You can buy cheap ($20-$30) Pro upgrade keys from Kinguin.net

        However, what do you mean by "logged into the laptop and told it what her Hotmail address was"?

        What/how did you tell "it" (I assume you mean the laptop/Win10 OS) what her hotmail address was?

        You didn't actually create a Microsoft Account and provide the email address as part of creating that account did you? You don't need an MS Account to use Windows, you can create a local-only account that requires nothing more than a username and a password to create. When the installation screen (or first time use if it came pre-installed with win10) asks you to login with or create a Microsoft Account, ignore it, skip/cancel/next, and then it'll ask about creating a local account. Since MS wants you to use an MS account, it's the first thing they ask about, but don't give in and create one,

        Using a local only account gets rid of most (but not all) of the telemetry, the most personal telemetry. If you don't log in with an MS Account, the telemetry, while still troubling, is much less, generally non-personal (usually aggreated-type) information like what features of windows are used, etc. And even this can be gotten rid of with the right tools, like shutup10 as others have mentioned, or even, as I did on a recent laptop that came with win10 pre-installed, setting up an IP-MAC binding on my firewalls built-in DHCP server, and then put a DENY outbound rule so that nothing would go out until I'd finished 'tuning' (i.e. getting rid of all the telemetry) win10.

    6. PNGuinn Silver badge
      Boffin

      ... I only use it because there are two programs I use that are not available for Linux.

      If anyone can point me in the right direction to getting Claris Works version 1 running in Wine I'll be a very happy bunny. I've never managed to get it beyond the splash screen.

      Seriously. I've largely migrated to Libre Office, but compared to Claris Works it's clunky and over complex for most of what I used CW for. And CW's word processor still has a few tricks up it's sleeve that LO can't, as far as I can tell, yet manage.

      1. Aus Tech

        Re: ... I only use it because there are two programs I use that are not available for Linux.

        You might find it easier to run something like WinXP in a VM, and access Claris Works through that. I remember using CW in NT4 Workstation, and I'm reasonably certain that it will run in XP too. All you have to do is to disable networking in the VM, so that XP cannot call home.

    7. Infernoz Bronze badge
      Boffin

      Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

      There are some GitHub projects which block/disable double digits of suspect Microsoft domains and functionality which the deceptive Microsoft security switches may not, some of my bookmarked sites for Windows 10 lock-down are:

      http://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/destroy_windows_10_spying.html

      https://modzero.github.io/fix-windows-privacy/

      The above tools disable lots of dubious OS functionality and domains.

      A Windows 10 Enterprise version is probably the safest because it can be formally locked down even more than the Professional version, but it should be commons sense to never do any personal stuff on work kit which you not OK with being monitored, because some employers do, so no private, NSFW or P2P stuff.

      I also block several domains, I never want any machines to access, in my router's domain filter, just-case an OS tries to bypass my lock-down measures.

      1. Trixr

        Re: What information does Win 10 slurp?

        I have W10 Pro at home, and it's fine in terms of being able to be locked down. GPEdit is your friend.

        And no, as far as I'm concerned, work kit remains just that. I'm not letting my personal data anywhere near it.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    No company has done more than MS to challenge laws that provide insufficient data [protection]

    USAians not liking the government hoarding data but not minding corporations hoarding it allows Microsoft to do what it does - take the government to court and at the same time produce an OS that hoards data.

    No, I don't get it either. Perhaps a USAian will be along in a moment to explain.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: No company has done more than MS to challenge laws that provide insufficient data [protection]

      I don't like either form of data collection (private sector OR gummint). However, if gummint DOES slurp data, and it's done in secret, it can't legally be used against you in court. Still, it can be used against you to park agents in places to survey you and collect evidence that CAN be used against you in court. 'Grey area' for national intelligence gathering and preventing crimes and terrorism, etc. and as long as I don't know about it, I'm willing to look the other way (up to a point).

      THEN AGAIN, when Micro-shaft collects data on you, ESPECIALLY without being given permission to do so, AND it's being used to MARKET YOUR BEHAVIOR as a commodity, then THAT is DISTURBING. It means they think that we are nothing but CATTLE. Moo.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: No company has done more than MS to challenge laws that provide insufficient data [protection]

        "It means they think that we are nothing but CATTLE. Moo."

        The fall and fall of the average citizen:

        Once upon a time, business viewed us as customers.

        Then, gradually, we became mere consumers.

        With the rise of internet, we've all been relegated to assets that are 'monetized'.

      2. Vimes

        Re: No company has done more than MS[...] @bombastic bob

        it can't legally be used against you in court.

        Two words: parallel reconstruction.

        http://www.reuters.com/article/us-dea-sod-idUSBRE97409R20130805

    2. 404 Silver badge

      Re: No company has done more than MS to challenge laws that provide insufficient data [protection]

      Quid pro quo...

      'USAians not liking the government hoarding data but not minding corporations hoarding it allows Microsoft to do what it does - take the government to court and at the same time produce an OS that hoards data.'

      <rant>

      ^this^ is what drives me crazy as a USAian - <deleted>Silicon Valley has been practically living in the <deleted> White House for the last 8 years and the <deleted> gov types allow it to happen as long as they get access to the <deleted> data. This gives them that <deleted><deleted> legal crevice is which to say 'Oh No, We Don't Have The Data - They Do' and the <deleted> corporations playing the <deleted> martyr card protecting the <deleted> poor American from Big Gov', all the while sharing everything you hold dear WITH the <deleted> bastards 'perfecting their machine language/prediction/world domination'

      My Ass! <deleted> <deleted>

      </rant>

      Ahem... 'scuse me...

  4. Vimes

    Paradoxically, no company has done more than Microsoft to challenge antiquated laws that provide insufficient personal data to users

    And to government too.

    They were amongst the first participants in PRISM, and the current fuss over legal niceties regarding Irish servers only started *after* their shady dealings with the US government were revealed by Snowden. They had to resist this in court. They simply had no other choice. They have known for years that this was an issue but did nothing until they were forced to do so.

    If Microsoft cared so much about how their customers are treated why did they fire Caspar Bowden?

    1. eldakka Silver badge

      They were amongst the first participants in PRISM

      Not to mention after MS purchased skype, it's architecture went from difficult to intercept end-to-end peer-to-peer encryption with only the peers involved in the conversation and having the keys, to a client-server-client with MITM encryption which could be easily monitored and eavesdropped on by listening in on that central server using the server side keys known to MS.

  5. adam payne Silver badge

    Where is the turn everything off button?

    "Paradoxically, no company has done more than Microsoft to challenge antiquated laws that provide insufficient personal data to users. It has filed four separate lawsuits against the US government – with some success, particularly over a law that allows the state to access personal information stored on Microsoft servers overseas – the so-called “Dublin Warrant” case"

    So you want to slurp the personal data of Windows 10 users but don't want anyone else having access to that information. Hmmmm.....

    1. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Where is the turn everything off button?

      There is no off button, everything now just goes into standby mode.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where is the turn everything off button?

        > There is no off button, everything now just goes into standby mode.

        Note that this isn't a joke. By default the power-off button in Windows 8.x and 10 puts the computer into a suspend state. It's not actually off.

        I installed the latest version of Shutup10 the other day. I noticed it had sprouted a new toggle switch.

        'Disable conducting experiments with this machine by Microsoft'

        'Microsoft can "experimentally" change particular settings on the Windows system remotely. This is done to test and / or check certain configurations.'

        The anniversary edition appears to ship with a setting that allows MS to remotely screw around with your machine in order to see if it breaks...

    2. Harry Stottle

      You probably can't turn EVERYTHING off but

      The privacy problem is closely related to the loss of control over Updates. The fixes for one are useful for the other. All those mentioned below are free of charge.

      You can take reasonable control with a combination of Spybot Antibeacon (as well as "Immunise" on the first tab, remember to select all the optional telemetry blocks on the second tab) and Winaerotweaker, which will let you do such useful things as setting your ethernet connection to "metred" which stops Windoze updates in its tracks (because they fear class actions caused by forcing users to download GB on $/gb connections). You can also use it to disable many of the auto updates and rebooting after update.

      In the Pro or Enterprise versions you can also use gpedit to force W-update into "Notify Only" mode, but that won't prevent "Security" updates.

      However, be aware that MS is writing its own countermeasures to these countermeasures. For example, many of the IP addresses blocked by Spybot AntiBeacon have now been hard coded around by subsequent updates.

      Finally download Wushowdiag.cab, which MS were forced to release, I believe, as a consequence of another court case resulting from an update borking one or more users systems. It is presented as a "troubleshooter" but what it really does is allow you to preview all outstanding updates and select those you don't want. Those "hidden" updates will then be ignored when you choose to permit an update.

      1. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: You probably can't turn EVERYTHING off butm @Harry Stottle

        You have just reminded me I dumped Windows when Vista arrived. In XP I had to run multiple anti-this, anti-that and anti-whatever just to keep XP working. I'd rather *be* working.

        I now only have one Windows machine but so far I have not needed to switch it on :)

        1. Harry Stottle

          Re: You probably can't turn EVERYTHING off butm @Harry Stottle

          unfortunately I don't have that option. My principle programming language is still Visual Foxpro and that only co-operates with windoze

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You probably can't turn EVERYTHING off but

        "Finally download Wushowdiag.cab" The only reference to this file in google is your register post.

        1. Harry Stottle

          Re: You probably can't turn EVERYTHING off but

          apologies. Memory failure on my part.

          the real name is at the end of this link!

          http://download.microsoft.com/download/f/2/2/f22d5fdb-59cd-4275-8c95-1be17bf70b21/wushowhide.diagcab

        2. Boothy

          Re: You probably can't turn EVERYTHING off but

          Quote: "By default the power-off button in Windows 8.x and 10 puts the computer into a suspend state. It's not actually off."

          Don't know about 8, as never had a copy other than a very early pre-release to have a look at (shudder).

          In Win 10 doing a shut-down does power off the device, it's not a suspend (does by default for all the Win 10 Home machines I've set up so far anyway).

          But, and here is the catch, Windows 10 uses a hybrid hibernation when you select shutdown, rather than being a 'proper' shutdown.

          Basically it closes all the the running Apps and logs you out, just like a traditional shutdown would, but then hibernates the PC. The idea being that you've basically hibernated a running OS, that's already completed its initialisation processes, and so booting back up should be faster.

          Within Windows 10, it's know as 'fast startup', which you can disable in settings. Disable this, and shutdown becomes a normal shutdown, and boot up, becomes a cold boot each time, rather then the restore from hibernation that it is by default.

          I decided to disable fast startup (and hibernate) on my main PC at home, it's running on SSDs, the boot up time did increase, but only by a second or two.

          I suspect, unless you're running on a slow HDD, the 'fast startup' option just isn't really needed.

          Plus disabling fast startup reduces writes to the SSD, (as you are basically hibernating every time you switch off), so seemed like a good idea to turn off anyway from an SSD life point of view.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    irritating turnaround

    Never mind MS, I've just bought a new generic Android handset, while trying to turn off auto correct I noticed that there's a setting, defaulting to send obviously, for keyboard telemetry. How many more Google apps do I have to fanny around with to stop my phone sending my personal info to Google?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: irritating turnaround

      Don't say that. Android is the one thing that is saving the masses from Apple.

      It is suppsed to be the answer to everything that is clearly wrong about Apple.

      Please don't say that this is all fake news?

    2. Just Enough

      Re: irritating turnaround

      Everything on the Android works to the assumption that you'll be wanting to sync all your data through to google. So much so that everything installs on that basis, and you then must then find and switch the sync option off for every aspect of the OS and app that does it. But by then, of course, it is already too late. In the minute it has taken you to turn it off, your data has already been sent to google, and don't imagine they're ever letting it go.

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: irritating turnaround

        "But by then, of course, it is already too late. In the minute it has taken you to turn it off, your data has already been sent to google,"

        Which is why, when you get a new phone (or other Android device), you do not put anything on it (no photos, videos, documents, old SMS messages, any phonebook entries, NOTHING) or allow it to connect to anything, no WiFi, no GSM/3/4/99G data (i.e. don't even put a SIM in it) until after you've been through and configured everything to your satisfaction.

        And, after an OTA update, go through the same exercise in case the update has decided to re-enable anything.

        It is a pain in the arse, but if you value your privacy, then it has to be done. Or decide your privacy isn't worth the effort, or decide you value your privacy enough to not get an Android (or iOS) phone and do without. Only you can decide where that line lies.

  7. Zash the Bench Geek

    USAian

    In the states, born and raised, have never left the country, don't even have a passport. I live under the assumption that everything I do, have done, will do... has the potential to be recorded. I am not delusional enough to think I ever really had "privacy" since the the beginning of electronic communication. I walk out the front door and I know some local resident has seen me and may likely gossip about me slipping on the ice and doing the dance of balance trying not to fall on my posterior.

    All these companies people are tweaking about that are slurping data have been doing it all along, nothing has changed. Your fruit flavored devices, your micro$oft products and I have little doubt your linux product is tracking, saving, calling home.

    So what do we really achieve pointing at these big businesses? In the end all this leads to technology advancement that someone else is making money off but we KEEP BUYING THE TOYS.

    In my opinion, they can watch all they like and I will randomly look up seals raping penguins just to keep them guessing what exactly goes through my mind.

    1. The First Dave

      Re: USAian

      @Zash

      "don't even have a passport" - why is that not a surprise?

  8. Trey Pattillo

    Everyone missed this...

    First we were the "customer".

    Then we became a "consumer" [done ever cook I can to plastic disk and still tough and chewy]

    Now we are their "PRODUCT". No income from selling each other "OUR" data.

    Notice how Linux is still highly disparaged.

    Why? No money there.

    As of 2017 MS Office 2016 is installed by WINE. MS's cash cow.

    And don't give me the 365 cloud crap.

    We came full circle there.

    First is was a main frame. You machine did nothing but connect to the MF.

    Then Gates gave us all a machine on our desk. [ now $$ now from Licensing and Ads]

    Now it is the "cloud".

    For krist sake. Call it what it is. SOMEONE ELSE machine. [a main frame].

    The USA courts stated several years ago that when you put your stuff on someone else machine you no longer "own" your stuff.

    Look at Facebook and their ilk.

    Of course if you are leasing/own a server/CoLo/VPS then you own that and your data is managed and owned by you.

    This is may change as the Liar-and-Chief get more control.

    /end rant

  9. Bucky 2
    Coat

    "...robots would soon take middle class jobs"

    And soon after, dingos will take all our babies.

  10. James Fox

    Serious question

    "a fairly homogenous, and not too-too-literate class"

    should that be:

    "a fairly homogenous, and not too-tech-literate class"

    or:

    "a fairly homogenous, and not tutu-literate class

    ?

  11. Badger Murphy
    Linux

    Linux products phoning home

    I can't speak for systemd-saddled distros; I have no idea what's in that opaque monolith, but other Linux distros have no home to phone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Linux products phoning home

      Precisely. Linux "products" are tracked the old fashioned way. You can; count the downloads from the distro mirrors, count the number of Linux-based browsers visiting a web site, deduce the OS type from NTP data (Apple has had the ability to collect user telemetry for many years via the timeservers they run which are hardwired to macOS, but optionally can be set to off. and the OS update repos), scan ports or traffic for them, count the number of users pulling updates from their respective repos, so many ways and none of them are "secret, built-in and non-optional." That's why we call it OPEN SOURCE! We can go view where the software came from, who wrote it, when the commit for the change occurred off their repo clone, and of course the source code itself. Try THAT with your secret OS, mac/pc boys and girls. Let me give you a hint; don't bother. Apple and Microsoft let you see only what you need to see. Many parts are hidden, and you don't get to view the fracking source either. I guess you could for the Darwin Kernel, and developer bits, but not the whole of the core OS. That's what I'm on about, gov!

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. Fading Silver badge
    Devil

    All I need is...

    an option to edit the data I send....... preferably with a little SQL injection....

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: All I need is...

      Hmm... I may have a reason to get a Win10 box (VM) now: I will set my username to Swarthy'); DROP TABLE *;--

      And hope they never learn to sanitize their inputs.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, this AI/Machine Learning "thing" isn't really about teaching Server clusters to process more data and provide useful information at higher speeds. It's really about trolling our personal data to sell more advertising? Big surprise. Make search engines provide more accurate answers to questions. Fix the disaster that is "predictive text". "Watson", in particular", is slow and useless. Mainframes have existed forever and have the processing power to make AI work better than the joke that AI is, so far.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...which really means using the server farms to run fairly old probabilistic neural networking and machine learning techniques.."

    Eh, the modern form of the venerable neural net only came about in 2012, and we've only had practical GPU acceleration since 2005. It ain't *that* old a technique.

  16. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Kudos to the EU. A phhhhtttt.. to the US.

    Well, this is another fine mess they're handing us. If the EU gets want they want in the way of privacy, I say more power to them. However, what happens in the EU won't happen anywhere else. Here in the US, we'll still be slurped until MS knows more about us than our families and with the blessing of the government.

    Pretty sad in many ways, that all we are is a resource to be monetized. Not a customer, but money in the bank for MS if they can get all the data they want. I have doubts that the US will ever take a stand against them or anyone else in this issue. But, at least someone is trying.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Kudos to the EU. A phhhhtttt.. to the US.

      I think the EU isn't actually delivering anything of any worth in this case...

      "In a statement seen by Reuters, the Article 29 Working Party finds that the new consent screen presented to users during the installation process still doesn’t sufficiently inform them about what personal data was being collected, and what it was subsequently used for."

      It is noteworthy that the Working Party are not saying:

      1. That Windows 10 data collection is in breech of EU privacy laws.

      2. That MS have to provide a means whereby customers can say no data collection and have that honoured and still be able to use the product.

      However, what they are saying is: MS it is okay to collect personal data, you just need to tidy up the consent screen...

      The question one of my clients needs answering, hasn't been addressed, namely can they use a machine with Win10 pre-installed purchased from the high street for the processing of personal information (eg. medical and counselling records) that is subject to legal protections, or does consenting to the collection of "personal data" by MS contravene UK and EU legislation and hence leave them open to possible future prosecution? Only when the EU address this usage issue, can we really say that the EU is doing something useful for us.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wrong.

      See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_neural_network

      Neural networks were theorized back in 1943. With algorithm advances in the 1970s and hardware advances in the 1980s. I've known about them since the 1980s myself, and I'm not a AI admin in any respect. Try reading more than you write, until your score improves. There's a good lad.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Theorised, yes. Actual practical techniques beyond the realms of academia are much newer. The 2012 technique I'm referring to is the Deep Convnet (Krizhevsky et al 2012). If you want to stretch things a little more you could put the root of the modern NN-driven AI growth as far back as 2006 when Hinton generalised backpropagation, but any further is stretching it. Neural nets have certainly been around for decades, however saying that makes the techniques being used today "old" is a bit like saying we've had RSA since the egyptians because they were aware of both prime numbers and multiplication.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forced Data Slurp = New Fascism???

    ~ There is no opt-out anymore. We should be able to pay more and get a laptop free of spyware / trial-ware / crapware.

    ~ Equally we should have the option to pay more and get a slurp free version of Windows...

    ~ Where are the regulators? Where are the politicians? Where is the media? They're all mice up against monsters (they admire)....

    ~ I've had enough... I'm just nursing my gear, buying nothing new, and hoping the nightmare will end soon.

    ~ If it doesn't its Linux / FOSS however I can get it. No Smart TV, no IoT, no Android whatever...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EU Privacy Gurus

    so .. in the Faragian brave new world, who exactly is going to do the equivalent role, and going to be in place and fully up the task within two years?

    (i tried May-an brave new world, but it looked very wrong - and it's been used in the past by a people far more intelligent than many MPs)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blame Microsoft but also blame

    PC Maker's and Shops as they're all complicit. Its just so wrong. I blame the shops for being patsies and zombies and not asking any hard questions. In turn I buy less tech... They're just selling us out - Pricks!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rule # 1 of the Internet

    - Never tell it who you are.

    Regards

    Fido

    (not my real name)

    1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: Rule # 1 of the Internet

      Thanks. Now I'm going to get all of your spam.

      Regards,

      Fido (not my real name either, but I was here first)

  21. rtb61

    1984

    How about being one update away from George Orwell 1984. Forced software installs, compulsory messaging on the desktop, monitoring camera, monitoring speaker, recording all internet access and keyboard logger, all built in, with no option for refusing ie do not install the software modules full stop and never forget M$ has changed privacy configurations on peoples computer without their consent a computer crime by definition of the law.

    Do you realise how dangerous that system would be if controlled by a corporation, seeking to become the government.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: seeking to become the government.

      No need for that formality. Trump is ignoring it, so why should anyone else in power bother? Dangerous precedents are being set by -er- a dangerous president.

      https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/02/donald-trump-conflicts-of-interests/508382/

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