There’s a holiday coming up that doesn’t get a lot of attention, but it probably should. Data Privacy Day is on Saturday, January 28th. Microsoft has gotten plenty of heat over the years for being insufficiently focused on the privacy of its users, but it’s looking to change that image this year with a new suite of tools to track your personal data. Soon you’ll be able to see the diagnostic data Microsoft collects from Windows and what it’s doing with it.
The new privacy-focused Microsoft tools come in two flavors. The first is the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer, which is already in testing with Microsoft’s Windows Insiders. This is a tool inside Windows that allows you to check on the telemetry data Microsoft collects. Most of it won’t make sense to non-developers, but it’s a good way to verify Microsoft’s claims. You can search, view, and filter all this data right from the settings page.
Diagnostic data presented in this menu includes all the basic system stats like operating system name, version, device ID, device class, diagnostic level, and more. Your connectivity type and configuration is also visible here as logged data. That includes peripherals and basic data about other devices discovered by the computer on your network.
Some of the potentially more sensitive data visible in the Windows Diagnostic Data Viewer includes “Product and Service Performance data.” That means metrics that can help Microsoft track the health and reliability of your device, as well as device file queries. Microsoft is careful to point out this does not capture the user’s actual file usage and viewing habits. There is some usage data collected, specifically pertaining to the apps and services you use, but not actual content. Windows may also get data about which applications you install and your device update history.
The other major privacy tool Microsoft wants to highlight is the Privacy Dashboard. This web-based tool launched quietly earlier this month, but it’s getting some new features in the near future. The Privacy Dashboard allows you to manage the data Microsoft collects across all its services and change what data is collected in the first place. In the next few months, Microsoft promises to add the ability to control media consumption data. You’ll also be able to export all your data and delete individual items.
Again, these features are rolling out first to members of the Insiders program. The first revision of the dashboard is available to everyone now.
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