Microsoft Data Privacy

Microsoft Windows 10 isn’t just an operating system used by 700 million devices: It’s a training school for Microsoft’s less-well-known Artificial Intelligence, Cortana.

  • When you set up Windows 10, it suggests turning on Cortana - which means letting Microsoft collect your location, contacts, voice, speech patterns, search queries, calendar and messaging content.

    If you don’t plan to use Cortana, decline it when you first set up your computer. Turning it off after the fact is much more complicated. There’s no single button, and some PCs put settings in different places. On most, you can open Cortana and click on its settings, then click on Permissions & History, and then individually turn off everything. Also turn off what’s listed under Manage the information Cortana can access from this device. Then go to Cortana, click on the Notebook icon, then click on your Microsoft account and log out.

    That stops Cortana from collecting future data. To delete what it already knows, point your Web browser to your Microsoft Privacy settings page and click view and clear on various types of data it has collected. Also go to the Cortana tab and tap Clear Cortana data.
    What you give up: another talking virtual assistant.

  • Windows helps advertisers track your PC using an anonymous ID.
    Go to Settings, then Privacy, then General, and turn off Let apps use advertising ID to make ads more interesting to you based on your app usage.
    What you give up: “More interesting” ads that probably weren’t going to be very interesting in the first place