Microsoft is not very convincing in its explanation of privacy issues of Windows 11 Recall

Jaime Teevan, one of Microsoft's top scientists, says Recall is harmless.

Reading time icon 4 min. read

Readers help support Windows Report. We may get a commission if you buy through our links. Tooltip Icon

Read our disclosure page to find out how can you help Windows Report sustain the editorial team Read more

Windows 11 Recall privacy

Windows 11 Recall, Microsoft’s new feature, has caused a big privacy debate. In this time when worries about privacy and technology are always meeting head-on, people feel both interested and uncertain about this tool. It is made to help make work easier by saving what users do for later use, but it has also brought skepticism and concern.

The main concern causing disagreement relates to convenience versus privacy balance. In a recent conversation, Jaime Teevan, Microsoft Research’s chief scientist, tried to respond to these worries. She highlighted Recall’s capacity to change how people engage with their information. However, even with her response, it still questions whether Microsoft has completely contemplated privacy matters before introducing this feature.

Recall functions by taking photographs of user activities to make past actions quickly accessible. Although a personal recall of digital interactions might seem attractive theoretically, its implementation is questionable.

Microsoft generally helps large enterprises manage their data, create data, share data, and that data is really something that makes the business of work different in the context of generative AI. And as individuals too, we have important data, the data that we interact with all the time, and there’s an opportunity to start thinking about how to do that and to start thinking about what it means to be able to capture and use that. But of course we are rethinking what data means and how we use it, how we value it, how it gets used.

Jaime Teevan

This feature, enabled as the default setting on Copilot+ PCs, keeps this information stored locally and not in the cloud; Microsoft emphasizes this fact. Teevan points out that this choice shows the company’s dedication to safeguarding data. But still, the worry about possibly revealing delicate information is there.

Opponents of Recall say it could become a hacker’s paradise, a legal enemy, or anyone who gets into the user’s PC. The ability to capture text and images and possibly sensitive conversations and data is a big danger, and Recall could potentially be the biggest privacy issue in Windows 11. Also, the truth that Recall stores its information in an unencrypted SQLite database makes matters worse by making it potentially vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Even though Microsoft is trying to protect Recall, the answers are not fully persuasive for many people. The company concentrating on where the data is saved locally doesn’t do much to ease worries about the wider effects of such an extensive tracking tool.

When asked if Recall could be able somehow upload snapshots of local files into the cloud, Teevan responded:

Yeah, yeah, so this is a foundational thing that we as a company care a lot about is actually the protection of data. So Recall is a feature which captures information. It’s a local Windows functionality, nothing goes into the cloud, everything’s stored locally.

Jaime Teevan

Security experts and advocates for privacy want Recall to reconsider, and they insist that Microsoft should think more deeply about how the feature affects users’ privacy and safety.

The tech world is still split as the countdown to Recall’s entry continues. Some people think this is a progressive use of AI to boost efficiency, but many others see it as a setback for privacy rights.

The discussion raises the ongoing challenge of finding an equilibrium between advancement and safeguarding personal privacy in today’s digital era.

Finally, the Windows 11 Recall argument shows that launching new technology is not simple or easy. Discussions about privacy worries and technological growth will continue as we continue exploring the digital world.

The big question still lingers: Can we truly enjoy the advantages of AI and data analysis without giving up our privacy or safety? The future will show, but the discussion about Recall is very important and highlights wider worries in our increasingly digital planet.

More about the topics: Windows 11, windows recall