How-to: Stop Windows 10 Dialling Home Part One

Stop Windows 10 dialling home

Almost every piece of software you touch is sending data back to someone. Many of whom then send it to someone else. Microsoft has ‘trusted partners.’ Through the operating system and various applications, they seem to collect an awful lot of data. Maybe it’s time to stop Windows 10 dialling home.

Unless you’re planning to rip out the phone line or go off-grid, this isn’t as simple or as easy as it sounds. Microsoft has enabled Windows 10 to send back more information, more frequently than any previous version. Under the latest 45-page privacy policy and services agreement, you legally you agreed to it. You did read those 45-pages, right? The only alternative is NOT to use the product.

The privacy settings are also lengthy, detailed and complex. Cynics call this a tactic to bore users into submission with page after page of check boxes that most of them don’t understand anyway. So mostly people accept the express settings. Express gives Microsoft carte-blanche access to user data across Privacy Options, Personalized Ads, Location, Getting to Know You and Feedback.

To customize the privacy settings, click the Start button, select Settings, then select Privacy. This opens all fifteen –  yes, fifteen – Privacy tabs. There are some big-ticket items you need to un-check.

The General tab would make Big Brother blush:

Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps (turning this off will reset your ID)

The resulting unique advertising ID allows you to be tracked across Windows Store, browser and universal apps. Microsoft can  tracking your app usage and push targeted ads through different apps and the Edge browser. Don’t think disabling this give you control over Edge, which has further setting to opt out of personalised ads in Edge and other browsers on Windows.

Turn on the SmartScreen Filter to check web content (URLs) that Windows Store apps use

The SmartScreen filter applies in Edge, universal apps AND in Windows File Explorer. Filtering  ‘unsafe’ content means it has to inspect everything.

Send Microsoft info about how I write to help us improve typing and writing in the future

This is a  key logger. Everything you type is sent to Microsoft.

Let websites provide locally relevant content by accessing my language list

Windows lets websites know your preferred languages on Windows so they can serve content in your preferred language.

Manage my Microsoft advertising and other personalization info opens up a whole additional Microsoft webpage with more options:

Personalized ads in this browser

Microsoft’s ad servers exploit this setting per browser, so it needs to be set for each browser you use on any given instance of Windows.

Personalized ads wherever I use my Microsoft account

This doesn’t turn off ads, it just turns of the personalisation. Leave it enabled and Microsoft will  personalise advertising across Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox, and any other device where you sign in using a Microsoft account.

This is just the first section of privacy controls. Grab a coffee and a blanket, this is a long jounrney. AJS

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