The Surveillance State Goes Mainstream: Windows 10 Is Watching (& Logging) Everything

Tyler Durden's picture

If Edward Snowden's patriotic exposure of all things 'super secret surveillance state' in America were not enough, Newsweek reports that, as 10s of millions of hungry PC users download the free upgrade, Windows 10 is watching - and logging and sharing - everything users do... and we mean everything.



From the moment an account is created, Microsoft begins watching. The company saves customers' basic information - name, contact details, passwords, demographic data and credit card specifics - but it also digs a bit deeper... and finding answers is not easy, as one privacy expert exclaimed, "there is no world in which 45 pages of policy documents and opt-out settings split across 13 different Settings screens and an external website constitutes 'real transparency'."


As NewsWeek reports,

More than 14 million devices are already running Microsoft’s Windows 10 after its global launch on Wednesday, but it’s unclear how many of their users read the company’s Privacy Policy and Service Agreement before downloading. Tucked away in the 45 pages’ worth of terms and conditions (effective August 1) is a substantial power grab: The company is collecting data on much of what you do while using its new software.


From the moment an account is created, Microsoft begins watching. The company saves customers’ basic information - name, contact details, passwords, demographic data and credit card specifics - but it also digs a bit deeper.


Other information Microsoft saves includes Bing search queries and conversations with the new digital personal assistant Cortana; contents of private communications such as email; websites and apps visited (including features accessed and length of time used); and contents of private folders. Furthermore, “your typed and handwritten words are collected,” the Privacy Statement says, which many online observers liken to a keylogger. Microsoft says they collect the information “to provide you a personalized user dictionary, help you type and write on your device with better character recognition, and provide you with text suggestions as you type or write.”


All this information doesn’t necessarily remain with just Microsoft. The company says it uses the data collected for three purposes: to provide and improve its services; to send customers personalized promotions; and to display targeted advertising, which sometimes requires the information be shared with third parties.


Though possibly surprising to some, the company’s data collection practices fit within the industry’s new normal.




Also like its competitors, Microsoft says it will disclose content of private communications or files in saved documents to “respond to valid legal process.” In the company’s latest bi-annual transparency report released in late March, it disclosed that of the 31,002 government requests for information received between June and December 2014, it disclosed content of personal communications in 3.36 percent of cases and non-content data in 73.17 percent.




Microsoft didn’t respond to requests for comment about specifics of the privacy terms, but in a blog post introducing them, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, Horacio Gutierrez, calls the Privacy Statement a “straightforward resource for understanding Microsoft’s commitments for protecting individual privacy.” Alex Meer of the gaming website Rock Paper Shotgun countered, “There is no world in which 45 pages of policy documents and opt-out settings split across 13 different Settings screens and an external website constitutes ‘real transparency’.”


Read more here...

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In other words, big brother is very much here... and we invited into our homes for free.

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401K of Dooom's picture

Whhaaatttt?  And I thought Bill Gates was a model global citizen?

headhunt's picture

Globalism is much like communism; good for the elite bad for the citizen.

bag holder's picture

Windows 10 does what the article describes, unless you go through two pages of settings at install time and flip all the "share my data" switches to "no". 

TruxtonSpangler's picture

That sounds foolproof. Of course they would respect your opt out, right? They would never do it anyway and tell you they dont. I trust Microsoft completely.

bag holder's picture

I personally don't think they're evil enough to add placebo opt-out switches, but if you're not convinced, it's quite a simple matter to look at all the network traffic to and from your computer:

TahoeBilly2012's picture

I cancelled my"opt in" for the free upgrade twice and it seemed to automatically put me back into the "accepted" cue for the free upgrade. That was the first red flag, I actually smelled a useless upgrade designed to collect data before I ever started hearing what this article says. My sixth sense kicked in long before. 

This setup is perfect, these companies just need to know more and more about you in order to stay relevant. Just happens to be the .Gov benefits from having access to more information on your than they could possibly ever dream of...when they need, meaning if you ever get "terroristy" say buying dehydrated food.

CheapBastard's picture

I'm not worried; all my data is safely stored on one of those clouds sponsored by Ashley Madison.

KnuckleDragger-X's picture

Yep, I know what my Linux install is doing and you can be as paranoid as you want to be.....

giggler321's picture

and yet another reason why not to use Microsoft - period.  In fact if you wanted a sure fire way of shooting yourself i the foot before you'd released, it would be to stick MS logo on it.

Save_America1st's picture

as I've told many people....why do you think they called it "Windows" in the first place?  It has always been a spy operating system.  In fact, Windows really shouldn't be thought of as an O/S at all. 


It's the ultimate computer virus. 

JLee2027's picture

I run Windows 7 and never got offered an upgrade. Bastards....

Bunga Bunga's picture

Running XP, I had been waiting 10 years for a free upgrade offer. Then switched to Linux where upgrades are always for free.

Supernova Born's picture

Globalism, corporatism, trampling privacy, ridiculously short product lifespans, unstable, viruses.

What's not to love?

wee-weed up's picture



From the Windows 10 terms & conditions...

"We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to protect our customers or enforce the terms governing the use of the services."

Personal data... private files and folders... WTF?

Arnold's picture

What is, is.



--your neighborhood Federal Regulator.

  Sponsored By your National Security Agency

 Please support our annual Langley Golf Tournament , April 13-20 2016

 See you there!

WOAR's picture

That depends on your definition of ISIS...

SSRI Junkie's picture

"Running XP, I had been waiting 10 years for a free upgrade offer. Then switched to Linux where upgrades are always for free."


+1 Yep...I still have XP with network diasbled and run Linux on the web.

Jack's Raging Bile Duct's picture

There is an update which installs a "Free Windows 10 Upgrade" icon in your system tray. Very pushy.

philipat's picture

Yes and even if you customize the icon to "Hide icon and notifications" every time you reboot, it will immediately reappear in your system tray. We should all know better than to download something "Free" from a Company such as Microsoft, especially before it has been explored by the Online community.

Jack's Raging Bile Duct's picture

I uninstalled that update. There are several others which I have not installed because I consider them malware. I used to run Ubuntu before Windows 7 brought me back. I may be returning to Ubuntu in the future.

JustUsChickensHere's picture

That's why I use Gentoo ... I do know precisely what Linux software is installed, and being compiled from source, I know each package has not been tampered with, and I able to review the source code if I want to. 


CynicLaureate's picture

< being compiled from source, I know each package has not been tampered with, and I able to review the source code if I want to. >

Ken Thompson's 1984 Lecture "Reflections of Trusting Trust", and why you can't trust the compiler:

15horses1donkey's picture

"" and I able to review the source code if I want to. ""

Spoken by every Linux enthusiast I ever met who never reviews the source code.

garypaul's picture

Yes, I use Ubuntu at work and it does everything I need (which is mostly web browsing with Firefox, Chrome(ium) etc.). Between that and my smartphone I can't see any reason to use Windows anymore.

Jack&#039;s Raging Bile Duct's picture

Sorry to inform you, but Chrome isn't exactly secure, nor private. It tracks and logs absolutely everything you do. It tells you this in the EULA. Try Pale Moon, it's a 64-bit Firefox. Also, check out the uTorrent browser. Very promising on decentralizing the web.

mkkby's picture

They don't even have to use fake opt out switches.  All they have to do is change their privacy policy, which they can do AT ANY TIME. Nobody reads the legal fine print, so everyone will be screwed good and hard.

The evil plan is to lure everyone in with "free" software, then pull the rug out.  Classic drug dealer tactic.  Did you think free was really gonna be free?

laboratorymike's picture

I'd hate to say it, but the company I work for does exactly this, all the time. In our case we want to know if all the cute widgets and popouts actually work or if they anger too many visitors. So the scale of collection is pretty incredible (there's a lot of active work to predict what people are thikning through their interactions with the computer), and the real questions is who gets that info, and what for.

But yes, the 'we just updated our legal policy' method is exactly what companies do. When online I'd recommend Ghostery or NoScript for the first layer of protection online, and a non-Windows OS at homei.

Lost My Shorts's picture

It sounds like the new Windows business model is to be Android, right?

Is Android any different?

Umh's picture

You will find all kinds of things, if you look hard enough. Little tricks can also be used to catch things out of the corner of your eye since the sneaks may not want to play while being watched. Try looking at your DNS cache once in awhile...

FixItAgainTony's picture

Wireshark is great but you are not going to be able to decipher the encrypted communication dump that happens between your computer and their server.

Itch's picture

I opt out of Google but there is still an sql database on my drive collecting absolutely eveything...I think the data is harvested by default,  and the permissions are granted by the user. So even if you decline, the data is still accumulated,  just a matter of he authorities asking for it.

The Count's picture

where is the database, whats it called and how to delete it?

38BWD22's picture



- 1,000,000,000,000 to Microsoft

They deserve pain for crappy software, except for the parts that do work well (the spyware going to them, to marketers and to .gov).

kchrisc's picture

"Windows 10 does what the article describes, unless you go through two pages of settings at install time and flip all the "share my data" switches to "no". "

And then one has to assume, a VERY big assumption, that Micro$oft has complied, and/or isn't hiding anything else. I wouldn't bet my hat on it.

Liberty is a demand. Tyranny is submission.


Micro$oft corporate motto: "What we steal is ours."

gimme-gimme-gimme's picture

You'd pretty much have to be a pretty big freaken idiot to install this after knowing this OS is nothing but a backdoor for M$ and NSA and any other big brother.    The OS should be 100% free based on the fact they save all this info and try to monetize it too!


You would have to be even more stupid to believe that selecting "no/disable" actually turns off those features, or still doesen't allow M$ to re-enable them remotely or later on down the line when they "update" their privacy policies a la Facebook style.  Ironically Apple with their new shitty OSX is basically the same anyhow too


At best you can opt-out of M$ using all this data to monetize it, but I doubt it stops them from collecting this info and putting into some blackmail government repository in case they need it later on.   People should either use a bit of brain power and install a free linux desktop OS or just stay with Windows 7.  (But I think that is asking too much from 90% of the population)

WOAR's picture

"I'm a thief, but I keep what I steal."


invisible touch's picture
invisible touch (not verified) bag holder Aug 2, 2015 12:26 PM

you think a switch turned off really act like it is supposed to do based on the definition of the sentence where you clic ?

lol man, you should really take some lesson about windows, rule N°1 never trust a function by the settings but always test it in real condition. 

billion times a security setting not working, clic NO on a stuff then any good firewall pop up behind " excuse me sir you have a shit trying to throw stuff outside of the house "


this windows is just the most 1984 style  mankind has ever designed.

no possibility to perma off the anti malware, no possibility to perma off the updades, etc... 


stay with seven x64. the very last O.S where you have control about 99% of the computer. windows 10 = you ass is gaped with gyneco speculum to the NSA servers up to your throat.


kill gxw.exe process, unregister the dll,  get the ownership, delete the files, and final  move is killing windows update FOREVER, then you have a solid seven, locked & steady.

WhackoWarner's picture

PLEASE Tell me more or direct me to a link please.


I have 7x 64.   THING that made me think twice is how the upgrade takes away my ability to supervise UPDATE.  I want nothing to do with Cloud control.  Going to remove this Windows 10 upgrade option that is already planted and ready to go.


So I am looking at the gwx.exe suggestion.   

Taint Boil's picture



PLEASE tell me more about:

....ass is gaped with gyneco speculum....

Nice touch .... LOL

thekingofdebt's picture

Hi Invisible Touch,

I had a few questions on win 7 and would appreciate your help. Sent you a contact request.


ebworthen's picture

Colleague who worked at a software company which tested the code in the pre-release said they found a key logger embedded in Windows 10; everything you type is recorded - so I wouldn't doubt the rest of this story in the least.

SSRI Junkie's picture

"XP SP2 forever"


Is there something about SP3 I need to know about? I'd appreciate hearing from you on this.

swass's picture

I am seriously doubting this.  The features people are freaking about are things that are already in their iphone, android, etc.  Use voice to search or write an email?  That gets sent to someone's servers.  Want prediction services in your web browsr?  That gets sent somewhere.  Turn all those features off.  Heck, you can lock the system down hard if you want.  Don't save your passwords and form data.  Don't create a microsoft account to store your Windows credentials.  Use open source Keepass to keep your passwords and information private.  Use a browser like Firefox or the open-source Chromium and limit your plugins.  Get a software firewall that  you can lock down outbound communications with.  You get the picture.

Arnold's picture

Yup flipping a digital switch aught to do it.

Deactivate your cell phone GPS lately?

JustUsChickensHere's picture

Faraday bag seems to work nicely though ... very inexpensive on eBay.

Only expose your location when you choose to.