Tech

Hey Cortana, do you spy on me?

cortana spy on you
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Cortana, Windows 10’s voice activated digital personal assistant wasn’t a matter of surprise to me, at least since its outset. I think, it might be because of the presence of similar personal assistants like Siri (from 2011), Google Now (from 2012) when Cortana was released.

Within a couple of years, Cortana has transformed into most flexible out of three. Unlike its competitors, it is incorporated into both desktop and mobile platforms of Windows that aid to its flexibility. It has both scheduling of Google Now and a behavior similar to Siri.

As a drawback, I noticed that Cortana may fail more frequently than Siri or Google Now. Moreover, the web search results Cortana provides will be less precise when it compared to Google Now or Siri.  But for most of the consumers, there’ll be only one limitation of Cortana comes to the top; becoming a privacy nightmare by collecting personal data from the users.

Is Cortana really collect personal data from its users?

Saying frankly, it does. Not just Cortana, every known personal assistant like Google Now/Siri does the same. Cortana will collect your contact information, calendar events, your browsing history, emails, purchased history, and a lot through your keystrokes and spoken syllables.

Why Microsoft Wants this data?

My answer would not be different from what you’ve assumed: targeted advertising.

According to Microsoft “Advertising keeps many of the services you use free of charge”.

Each Microsoft user with a specific device will be issued a unique advertising id based on his/her email address. Microsoft will share each of these profiles with their partner networks, which in turn serve you ads from certain Windows apps.

Should I need to Care on this Privacy Matter?

You won’t get an idea which partner networks are going to use your personal data. And, the policies of those ad networks may not be so transparent as you wish.

Trusting a big player like Microsoft won’t cause any harm to you, as it has the best measures to protect your data. But at the same time, nobody can blame you if you’re not trusting Microsoft ad partners – as even minimal vulnerabilities in such a network may result in a much disastrous results.

Can I stop Cortana from collecting my data?

If you are just planning to install Windows 10, you are almost safe. While installing, you just have to decline Express Settings as it’ll help you to compromise your privacy features.

Perhaps, this Express Settings will be enabled if you’re already installed Windows 10. You can turn it OFF from Start Menu -> Settings. Here, you may find various features that listed under privacy. Take a close look through these options.

For Cortana, the feature you should disable will be Speech, Linking, and Typing. On the right pane of this option, you’ll see “Getting to Know you” window. Just need to click “Stop getting to know me” button to prevent Microsoft from taking your speech, handwriting patterns and typing history.


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