Hey, guess what, I found some more.
I realize I’m in anger of becoming the ‘everything is spyware’ guy. But that’s not because I’m a bizarre paranoiac.
Instead, it’s because a simple, factual description of the way a lot of major tech products function… exactly resembles the demented slander of a bizarre paranoiac.
That’s how they get you.
Windows 10 is Windows’ flagship new OS, a recovery for them after they went out on a limb with Windows 8 to create an OS for the touchscreen revolution that never happened.
But it’s built with the modern ‘ecosystem’ pattern of consumption in mind. The user gets convenience; the provider gets all your data.
Windows 10 has been notorious among privacy advocates for its dodgy data collection methods. It collects browsing history, emails and basically everything else you do.
Ever since it came out, users have tried to figure out how to turn off its collection settings – while facing a constant stream of updates from Microsoft that in many cases actually make things worse.
Windows 10 doesn’t just collect your data: it monitors you all the time while you use it. It turns off pirated software and illegally downloaded games – which is great, of course, because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with copyright laws as they stand, and no correlation between ‘most pirated’ and ‘most profitable.’ Right?
And it removes software from your computer without your permission. Seriously.
So basically Windows 10 is like a nightmarish future in which we’re all perpetual children, forever trapped in a panopticon staffed by the AI equivalent of Nurse Ratched. As if Skynet achieved consciousness, took your toys off you and told you to tidy your room.
This stuff is so well known now that there’s barely any point in writing about it – so, why am I bothering?
Because the story isn’t ‘X software is spyware.’
It’s ‘they got busted with it.’
The EU just got way more serious about privacy, introducing strict new regulations that call for personal responsibility for data for a person in the company and jail time for that person if they screw up. (Microsoft still isn’t compliant with existing EU privacy legislation, mostly because of Windows 10’s creepy spying.)
And in a Brazilian court, Microsoft just got told that their software as it stands is flat-out illegal.
Federal prosecutors gave Microsoft 15 days to alter the default settings of Windows 10 so it no longer collects all your data, or face the wrath of the Brazilian legal system. In this case the prosecution team, saying Windows 10 ‘violates innumerous constitutional [principles], such as the privacy protection,’ have asked for fines of $28,550 a day for every day over the 15-day limit that Microsoft continues to collect personal data on its users illegally – and a $2.87 million fine for the initial infraction.
Of course, while you and I might have to dip into our savings to come up with that kind of money, Microsoft won’t notice the financial sting of a fine that small too much.
The important thing is the first stirrings of a global backlash against the contempt for our right to privacy that many tech businesses have shown.
That just leaves us with the NSA.
So yeah, you still need a VPN.
And for the time being, I’m keeping this hat on.