A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced changes to Windows 10 to offer users greater control over how it collects data about them from its devices and services. Among the changes were a new web privacy dashboard, and a new privacy setup experience for devices, with a clear explanation of the types of data that Microsoft collects, and more granular controls for users to enable or disable them.
It later emerged that those new measures were announced after an investigation into Microsoft by Swiss data protection regulators that began in 2014. The company worked with Swiss authorities to introduce those new measures that it revealed last month - but elsewhere in Europe, data protection watchdogs appear to believe that the new features don't go far enough.
As Reuters reports, the Article 29 Working Party - a group formed of representatives from data and privacy regulators in each of the European Union's member states - wrote to Microsoft in 2016, before its recent announcements. Their letter raised concerns over how the company collected data, and how it was informing users of its intentions to collect and store that information about them.
The group said in a statement today:
In light of the above, which are separate to the results of ongoing inquiries at a national level, even considering the proposed changes to Windows 10, the Working Party remains concerned about the level of protection of users’ personal data.
One of the countries alluded to in that statement is France, where CNIL - the country's national data protection commissioner - accused Microsoft last year of collecting too much data on Windows 10 users, with a 'lack of individual consent'. It even went as far as criticizing some aspects of the operating system's security features.
The Article 29 Working Party pointed out today that Microsoft collects data in its OS for multiple purposes, including advertising, and added that the company "should clearly explain what kinds of personal data are processed for what purposes. Without such information, consent cannot be informed, and therefore, not valid."
The group also acknowledged that Microsoft has expressed a willingness to cooperate in addressing its concerns.