Changes to Windows 10's data-gathering not enough to satisfy EU privacy watchdogs

Regulators want a better explanation from the company than that 'basic' telemetry collects less user data than 'full'

European Union privacy watchdogs are still not happy with Windows 10's gathering of data about its users, over a year after they first wrote to Microsoft to complain.

While the company has developed ways to give users more control over what data is collected, their consent to its collection cannot be valid without further explanation, according to the Article 29 Working Party, an umbrella body for the EU's national privacy regulators.

The working party welcomed Microsoft's introduction of five new options in Windows 10 to limit or switch off certain kinds of data processing, but said they provided insufficient information about their operation.

"It is not clear to what extent both new and existing users will be informed about the specific data that are being collected and processed under each of the functionalities," the working party said in a letter to Microsoft's Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch and CEO Satya Nadella last week.

The letter, published on the working party's website Monday, gently lampooned one of Microsoft's descriptions.

"The proposed new explanation when, for example, a user switches the level of telemetry data from 'full' to 'basic' that Microsoft will collect 'less data' is insufficient without further explanation. Such information currently is also not available in the current version of the privacy policy," it said.

The privacy regulators also called on Microsoft to explain what kinds of personal data are processed for what purposes.

"Without such information, consent cannot be informed, and therefore, not valid," they wrote.

The working party first wrote to Lynch and Nadella in January 2016 calling for changes to Windows 10's handling of personal information.

Microsoft announced its plans to change Windows 10's privacy settings in a blog posting in January 2017, saying that they would be included in its "Creators Update."

The working party can't impose any penalties on Microsoft itself, but it acts as the mouthpiece for national data protection authorities across the EU and can recommend they take action. Seven authorities are investigating Windows 10's data gathering, led by the DPA for the German state of Bavaria. The other authorities holding inquiries are France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and the U.K.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?