‘No matter what platform you use, it’s all under surveillance’
After the release of Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system, several tech bloggers have warned that its privacy settings are invasive by default. After signing a lengthy service agreement of 12,000 words the user is affectively giving the system access rights to its private information, including location history, text messages and any information shared via them, personal contacts and calendar notes about plans for exact dates, among other things.
According to the agreement, this data can be stored and preserved if the company considers it necessary.
RT: Given the snooping abilities of the latest Windows version, is it an all-encompassing surveillance machine?
Chris Kitze: Sure. They are all completely encompassing surveillance machines. It doesn’t matter what platform you are using - it’s all under surveillance. That’s the issue. So Microsoft is probably just catching up, they were a few steps behind.
RT:There is a huge amount of data being snooped on and stored by the system. What might it be used for?
CK: It can be used for anything. I think the main purpose is actually ad targeting, that’s an innocuous purpose and ad-targeting works. That’s why people use it. What they are looking for is actual usage, behavior. If you type a message “I’m going to Cleveland next week” or “I’m traveling to Paris” next thing you are going to get hit by a bunch of ads for hotel rooms in Paris or maybe some kind of a dinner out.
RT: How easy can the data gathered by Windows 10 be compromised and used by say criminals?
CK: You hit it right on the head. The real risk is the compromise of the data and what it gets used for… Let’s say you have some kind of a medical condition and for whatever reason you don’t want your boss to know about it and if someone breaks in they could hold you hostage. They could break in, get this information and say “Guess what, we will send it to your boss unless you send us some bitcoins or some money.” That’s just one application. You’ve got the other things which are how can it be used by governments, by other entities. The problem is that once the data is stored in a place like that - it’s out of your control.
RT: If we go back to the case of Edward Snowden’s disclosures over NSA snooping, general public is quite against snooping. Why is Windows pushing instead of protection of data actually quite the opposite?
CK: You are correct. They generally don’t like it when they are surveilled but if you look at their actual behavior, most people don’t care. They just say “Well, I’m not doing anything wrong and therefore ok, whatever I’ll just go along to get along.” Very few people are actually taking the hard look at it and saying “What do I need to do?” Most of those people are people who either have relatives who came from formerly communist countries and they understand what the downside is. The other people are people who have businesses with sensitive information. I mean businesses really need to up their security. I think if this Windows 10… once people really know what’s going on a lot of businesses may decide not to use Windows and switch to something like Linux.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.