Microsoft’s revised privacy policy curbs Windows 10 fears with more specificity

A low-key update addresses some of the more extreme fears about Windows 10 data collection.

thinkstockphotos 177110711

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

Microsoft’s privacy policy is looking a little less frightening with a set of revisions that quietly landed last month.

As documented by Ed Bott at ZDNet, the updated policy appears to address fears over data collection in Windows 10, and on services such as OneDrive and Outlook. In many cases, Microsoft has added specifics and examples to show exactly where and why it accesses personal data.

For instance, one passage previously described how Microsoft will “access, disclose and preserve” personal data such as “the content of your emails, other private communications, or files in private folders” for law enforcement, customer protection, or maintenance purposes. The revised policy replaces the vague “private communications” with “in,” and adds the phrase “in private folders on OneDrive.” In other words, Microsoft isn’t spying on the contents of your local storage or helping itself to all manners of communication.

The privacy policy also adds a new section for health services such as Microsoft Band and HealthVault. It clearly states that Microsoft won’t advertise or market to users based on their health data without opt-in consent, and won’t combine health information with data from other services without explicit permission.

Notably, Microsoft has not touched its section on telemetry and error reporting. Windows 10 includes mandatory collection of basic telemetry data, and Microsoft has defended the practice as saying it’s necessary to improve the product.

Check out Bott’s report for the full rundown on what’s changed in Microsoft’s privacy policy.

Why this matters: Windows 10 is much more aggressive in collecting personal and behavior data from users. Much of this data collection powers services like Cortana and Wi-Fi Sense, and can be disabled. However, Microsoft has also stoked privacy worries through subtler policies, such as mandatory telemetry data collection and the always-connected search bar. By describing specific cases where data collection is necessary, the new privacy policy tries to make clear that Microsoft isn’t really watching you.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon