Microsoft avoids Swiss legal battle with Windows 10 changes
Fri 13 Jan 2017
In response to criticism over privacy and transparency, Microsoft has unveiled extensive changes to privacy settings in Windows 10. These changes were satisfactory to Swiss privacy advocates, who have agreed to drop pending legal action against the company.
The Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC), among others, criticized Microsoft for the quick install option known as ‘get going fast’, which automatically shared data with the company including browser history, user location, and keyboard entries.
Users installing the software using the quick install option may not have been aware of the potential violation of personal privacy that ‘get going fast’ entailed.
Earlier this week, Microsoft announced the launch of a new web-based privacy dashboard to enable users to control privacy settings across several devices on a single screen. The company also changed the Windows 10 installation procedure, which it says will simplify diagnostic data gathering and reducing data collected at the basic level.
Goals for changed privacy and data collection settings are to make the process more transparent to end users, as well as to keep things user-friendly for customers who want to change or update settings at will.
The Swiss watchdog group FDPIC found that the changes to Windows 10 satisfied Swiss privacy requirements and officially closed the investigation that the group started in 2015.
The FDPIC said that the modifications, which will be carried out worldwide over two updates to Windows 10 planned for 2017, were sufficient to settle the issue without a legal battle. Microsoft reiterated their commitment to complying with local laws as a global company and said that they appreciated the opportunity to discuss privacy with the FDPIC.
Additionally, Microsoft has taken a stand for user privacy, against targeting advertisements to users based on data collection. The blog post that outlined the new privacy dashboard and changes to Windows 10 installation also included the statement, “regardless of your data collection choices, we will not use the contents of your email, chat, files, or pictures to target ads to you.”
Microsoft remains an active member of the U.S.-EU Privacy Shield framework, an agreement designed by the two entities for the protection of personal data in cross-border transactions.