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EU still unhappy with Windows 10 data collection, despite changes

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Microsoft recently announced some changes to its Windows 10 privacy policies and configuration, making it easier to see at least some of the user information that’s being gathered and giving users some ability to change privacy settings. While those changes — some of which are coming in the impending Creators Update — were welcome, they’ve also been met with some skepticism.

Apparently, the changes aren’t enough to placate at least one major governmental body. The European Union (EU) has let Microsoft know that it’s not completely satisfied with the company’s work so far in managing Windows 10 privacy and that more remains to be done, as PCWorld reports.

Privacy issues in the EU are managed by the Article 29 Working Party, which represents all of the privacy regulators for each EU country. The working party wrote a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch, in which it outlined its remaining concerns with how the company gathers data in Windows 10 and what should be done to address them.

The body’s main concerns revolve around the extent to which Microsoft informs users of what data is being passed along, and how the company plans to use the data:

“The Working Party would like to recall that user consent can only be valid if fully informed, freely given, and specific. While it is clear that the proposed new express installation screen will present users with five options to limit or switch off certain kinds of data processing, it is not clear to what extent both new and existing users will be informed about the specific data that are being collected and processed under each of the functionalities.”

Specifically, the new change to offer “full” and “basic” data gathering isn’t enough of a change to meet the EU’s requirements, because saying that Microsoft will collect “less data” isn’t specific enough for users to fully understand what’s being collected. Also, telling users what data is collected in general isn’t enough — the company should also tell users clearly and specifically how the data will be used.

While the working party doesn’t have the authority to levy any fines or otherwise dictate Microsoft’s actions, it does influence policy throughout the EU. So far, a number of European countries are conducting investigations into how Windows 10 gathers data, and so the working party’s continued displeasure with Microsoft’s policies could indicate the company is in for a bumpy road.

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