The advent of Microsoft’s newest operating system is becoming problematic for privacy advocates and those who look closely at the new system’s licensing agreement.
As the dominant technology firm, Microsoft does not develop open source operating systems, and no one’s expecting the systems to be anything less than a walled garden for users. But now, with more Internet in cloud functionality emerging in the common user systems that we rely on for Internet communication, the new Microsoft OS includes new invasive features for collecting data about users.
Privacy advocates complain that certain privacy-busting measures are written into the 20,000-word software license for Windows 10. Some of these features involve tracking systems that can and might be able to see whether a user is accessing pirated content. That’s led some to speculate about a “piracy kill switch”– a built-in system that will immobilize pirated content or block it from the operating system altogether.
The same features raise questions about how Microsoft will use the data, or whether it can be apprehended by third parties. Every step forward in sophisticated software design brings with it more of the “Uberveillance” that privacy advocates are worried about — as we become more sophisticated in accessing the Internet, we also leave ourselves vulnerable to different kinds of electronic snooping on the part of Internet service providers, operating system creators and others with hand in building the software architectures. Of course the relationship between a tech maker and user is not an egalitarian one – and some things are let slide, to an extent – for example, most users will put up with Microsoft’s annoying habit of hiding the most common and needed controls in new menu systems –but when it’s related to privacy, that’s another story altogether.
In the world of torrent handling, some users, and even some tracking systems, have banned Windows 10 from their operations. As many people realize that Windows 10 wasn’t just another iterative version of the operating system, many of them uninstalled it, and now, Windows 10 users may be kicked off of some torrent platforms.
As with all of these kinds of evolutions, there’s a lot of “he said, she said” about an obscure part of the user agreement for Windows 10 that talks about stopping people from “playing counterfeit games.” Does Microsoft have a privacy kill switch built-in? Probably not. But it’s all part of the evolving conversation about how we handle our privacy on the Web. It has to do with how we use things like VPNs, proxies and anonymity tools, and how tech companies respond by limiting or restricting user options. There’s a delicate balance between security and privacy, and then there are the interests of the respective parties, from the original media license holders like the music studios, to Internet service providers and others who may be under duress from governments, to the users themselves who fiercely advocate for their rights in the digital world. Look for much more of this as new systems develop to more actively tracks user activity on the web.
If you’re looking for some modicum of privacy and security while using Windows 10, why not check out our article on some of the best VPNs to use with Windows 10.