Microsoft operating system’s use of personal data breaches data protection legislation, says report.
The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) is the latest European agency to claim that Microsoft has breached the country’s data protection laws because it uses the personal data of the country’s citizens without clearly stating what it does with their information.
The DPA alleges that because Windows 10 users “lack control of their data” due to the way Microsoft processes the data of the four million active devices in Holland currently using Windows 10. It also states that sanctions could be imposed if Microsoft failed to resolve specific issues breaching Dutch legislation.
“It turns out that Microsoft’s operating system follows about every step you take on your computer. That results in an intrusive profile of yourself,” said Wilbert Tomesen, vice-chairman of the DPA.
In response, Microsoft stated: “The way Microsoft collects data at the full telemetry level is… Microsoft can use the collected data for the various purposes, described in a very general way. Through this combination of purposes and the lack of transparency Microsoft cannot obtain a legal ground, such as consent, for the processing of data.”
Compliance a priority
Microsoft has said it is “a priority” for the company to comply with Dutch law. “Windows collects data so that we can be responsive to your needs and interests,” wrote Marisa Rogers, Microsoft’s Windows and devices group privacy officer. “As a result, we’ve made improvements to ensure all versions of Windows 10 meet our customers’ privacy needs and expectations. For example, we’ve worked with Swiss and French data protection authorities to incorporate their guidance, subsequently improving the privacy controls in Windows 10 Home and Pro and earning their positive assessments of the changes.”
Microsoft also said that the latest update of its flagship operating system gave Windows 10 users the opportunity to learn about privacy controls, and that users were informed about why Microsoft processed their data in various documents and statements, including those relating to the performance of the device and apps installed.