Users claim Microsoft still collects activity history despite being disabled

Giles Ensor avatar. By: Giles Ensor
3 minute read
microsoft activity history spying

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Recent comments on Reddit would suggest that Microsoft is still not playing the game when it comes to collecting data on its users. This is a clear breach not just of Microsoft’s own guidelines, but almost certainly a breach of various laws, especially GDPR.

The Backstory

When Microsoft released Windows 10, there was an outcry after it was discovered that it was collecting and sharing the activity of its users. While Microsoft stated that the data was only being used to help it improve the Windows 10 experience, this was not enough of a reason to justify it.

Microsoft was forced to back down and introduced new privacy settings that would allow users to opt out (more or less) if they didn’t want their data used by Microsoft. Sadly for Windows 10 users, and hopefully for Microsoft, this has not happened.

What’s the problem?

On the December 10th, 2018, a redditor commented that, “I have disabled activity history completely yet some applications are still showing on the privacy dashboard. (It’s not just UWP apps either). How do I stop this?

Reddit GDPR

It appears that, even though users can go to Settings > Privacy > Activity History > uncheck “Let Windows synchronise my activities from this PC to the cloud”, Microsoft is still getting our data.

How to get round this issue


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While one would assume that by selecting the settings in Windows 10 would protect your data, it appears that the best way to make sure is to head over to tenforums and use a Registry file to prevent Microsoft from collecting user data.

Why this is important

This is yet another example of how tech companies seem to think that they are above the law. GDPR clearly states that tech companies can only collect and use your data if you have given your consent.

True, GDPR does not have to be followed if your company website is only being accessed by people in non-European Union countries, but how likely is that? If a website is being accessed by users in the EU, then the company must abide by GDPR rules, no matter where the company itself is based.

Wrapping it all up

This is not rocket surgery. Time and time again, we are finding out that we are sharing more information with tech companies, when we have not expressly given our permission for them to collect that information.

The law is clear and it would be disingenuous at best for Microsoft to claim that this was merely a misunderstanding, or even worse, that is is the fault of Windows 10 users.

Here is my twopenneth worth. The default setting on Widows 10 should be that absolutely none of your data is shared with Microsoft. And that the only way Microsoft can use your data is if you physically tick the box saying they can.

What are your thoughts on this? Are you okay with the idea of Microsoft using your data to improve Windows 10? Let us know your thoughts below.

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