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Microsoft may spy on Windows 10 users to make sure they don’t play pirated games

Despite being generally well-received, Windows 10 has been confronted with some bitter criticism concerning a series of alleged privacy obstructions. The latest of these stems from Microsoft’s End User License Agreement, or EULA, with WinBeta reporting that Microsoft has reserved the right to check your system for “playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorized hardware peripheral devices.”

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For an operating system that runs an array of utilities which, mind you, can also be pirated, it’s bizarre to think that Microsoft would only be targeting games in its analyses. One might wonder why the company would not also check for ubiquitously pirated productivity suites such as Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft Office.

Of course, it may (also) be a case of Microsoft cracking down on the modification of its Xbox game consoles, a popular trend seen in the days of the original Xbox and its successor, the Xbox 360.

To accomplish this, gamers download software to their PCs, deploying it to their consoles via an external media device. Microsoft thus may be taking these steps in an attempt to prevent similar instances with the Xbox One as a means of suppressing hacking tool possession.

This would make sense since online communities have been trying to exploit the console since its launch in 2013. However, the language used in the agreement is reportedly too vague to discern Microsoft’s likely intent, and we can be sure the firm’s top-notch lawyers chose that ambiguous language knowingly.

Also ambiguous is whether Microsoft intends to share with law enforcement the information they obtain concerning users downloading “counterfeit games,” or if they simply plan to disable the stolen software.

Likewise, now that Windows 10 is used more liberally across platforms including PC, mobile, Xbox, HoloLens, and Surface Hub, EULAs are assembled more broadly. They must now include written safeguards against stolen phones, Xbox mods, enterprise security, and required updates.

The pervasiveness of Windows 10 is bringing with it not only technical challenges, but also legal challenges in producing a single, intelligible agreement.

Returning to the basics with Windows 10, Microsoft has pleased its customers, new and old. But with that out of the way, it’s now time to transparently acknowledge our concerns. Enough silence, Microsoft, what are you doing with our data?