Thursday , February 25 2021

Microsoft Office was caught secretly collecting user data

Microsoft found

The Privacy Company Analytics Company found that Microsoft is carrying out large-scale collection of personal data on users of its software products. This became known in a special study program conducted by experts from the Privacy Company, which was ordered by the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice.

According to the Privacy Company report, the telemetry collection in Windows 10 includes 1,200 types of events, and 10 teams of engineers have access to this information. In the Office case, around 25 thousand different activities are being collected, which are handled by 30 specialist teams.

Kata as a secret agent

The accumulation of user data, according to research by the Privacy Company, is carried out through Office's default software package. The information collected contains details about the individual use of all programs from the Microsoft Office package, including the most popular Word and Excel.


MS Office collects around 25 thousand various user activities
processing 30 specialist teams involved

Outlook e-mail clients also don't stand aside – algorithms are embedded in it, and because Outlook is in demand in the business segment, sensitive information from many companies from around the world may be at risk.

Non-switchable algorithm

The Privacy Company report separately states the fact that it is not possible to disable the Microsoft algorithm itself or at least control it. Users cannot reduce the amount of data sent, or find out what information is sent for further analysis to Microsoft. You can only fully limit the means of accessing Microsoft Office to the Internet using third party software and firewalls.

Microsoft reaction

The Company Privacy Expert has transferred the results of their research to Microsoft. Answers to press services are provided immediately: the option to adjust and even completely disable data collection will appear in one of the following Office updates. Microsoft also promised in the shortest possible time to reveal all documentation about data collection in Office.

EU law violations

All information collected by Microsoft Office is sent to company servers located in the United States. This is a direct violation of the "General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR)" recently adopted in the EU and implies, in particular, the storage of user data from the European Union on servers in Europe.

The Dutch authorities have expressed their concern that Microsoft servers can receive confidential information related to various governments, including those from Europe.

Windows 10 is also watching

The most popular Windows 10 OS around the world, sponsored by Microsoft, also collects data about users, called telemetry. American companies can find out where a particular user's computer is, which sites he visits, which programs he works on, what he searches on the Internet and what text he enters from the keyboard.

Collecting telemetry in Windows 10 using standard tools is not possible to deactivate, which causes considerable public outrage and even leads to several court appeals, including collective ones.

As a result, Microsoft is still turning off user data collection, but only in the company version. Many individual components of Windows 10, for example, Cortana's voice assistant, also collect data. In Russia, Cortana does not officially work, unlike the process of collecting telemetry itself.

As of September 2018, Windows 10 has become the most popular operating system in the world. Presented on July 29, 2015, in less than three years, it occupied 51.94% of the market. Now Windows 10 is installed on more than 700 million computers and laptops in the world.

In the spring of 2017, Microsoft first revealed a complete list of data collected by Windows 10. The system accumulates information about the name, version, and language of the OS, Windows and Xbox user ID, parameters, characteristics and computer settings. In addition, the system accumulates data on peripheral devices, networks, and applications that are on the current or previous computer. All of this comes with information about computer performance, crashes and upgrades, licenses and date of purchase, search history and web surfing.

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