Microsoft relabels its Windows 10 diagnostic data collection settings to boost transparency
Why it matters: Thanks to the constant data collection practices that big tech companies employ these days, protecting your digital privacy is more complicated than ever. Though the biggest offenders in this area tend to be search and shopping giants like Google and Amazon, Microsoft has been known to use telemetry to monitor its Windows 10 users quite closely.
While Microsoft isn’t likely to put an end to that practice anytime soon, it is at least willing to be a bit more transparent about the process. In the latest Windows 10 Insider Build announcement, Microsoft revealed some changes it’s making to the Settings app and the Group Policy editor.
First of all, Microsoft is tweaking the way it labels its diagnostic data collection settings. The basic diagnostic data option, which includes information like your IP address and what type of device you’re using, will now be known as “required diagnostic data.” This should reduce confusion for users who don’t understand why the option can’t be turned off — in Microsoft’s viewpoint, it needs that basic data to “detect significant feature failures.”
Presumably, this data is what allows Microsoft to get on top of significant screw-ups like the infamous Windows 10 data deletion bug in a timely manner. Overall, it’s not terribly intrusive, though we’re certain many users would prefer to block even this level of data collection.
Then there’s the “full” diagnostic data option, which is disabled by default and lets Microsoft harvest information about the websites you visit and the apps and features you use (among other things). This option will now be called “Optional diagnostic data” to better reflect its intent. This change is minor, particularly for our tech-savvy readers, but less-informed users might have previously assumed that the full diagnostic data option was necessary or beneficial to them. By making this small tweak, those individuals might be more likely to stick to the basic setting without volunteering any unnecessary information.
On top of these smaller changes, enterprise customers will get a few more options within the Group Policy editor. This menu will soon include “granular” settings to let workers better configure the data that gets collected from their machine, and other devices in their organization. Microsoft did not elaborate on what those settings might be, nor did it clarify whether they will come to consumer PCs down the line.