Microsoft wins court reprieve with Win10 privacy changes

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Microsoft wins court reprieve with Win10 privacy changes

Swiss privacy watchdog lets it off the hook.

Switzerland's data protection boss will not take Microsoft to court after the company agreed to adopt recommendations for improving data processing transparency in its Windows 10 operating system, the government agency said.

The Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) said on Wednesday it had concluded an investigation into the operating system begun in 2015, which it said revealed data protection gaps under Swiss law.

"The FDPIC investigations revealed that data processing in connection with Windows 10 did not conform in every respect with the data protection legislation," the authority said in a statement.

In response, Microsoft made proposals to the commissioner which had been agreed after adjustments by the FDPIC.

"The technical implementation of the modifications requested by the FDPIC will be carried out worldwide as part of the two Windows 10 software releases planned for 2017," the FDPIC said.

The Swiss government agency said the agreement with Microsoft meant there was "no need for court proceedings".

A Microsoft spokesman said the company appreciated the opportunity to discuss Windows 10 with the Swiss Data Protection Authority.

"As a global business, Microsoft is committed to complying with all applicable laws in the countries in which we offer our services and products," he said.

Microsoft outlined the privacy changes yesterday in a blog on its website, saying it is committed to protecting consumers' privacy

The reforms include a more transparent, detailed privacy configuration process at setup, new telemetry options, and a web-based privacy dashboard to see the data Windows tracks.

In its 2015-2016 annual report, the FDPIC said the system's quick installation or "get going fast" option automatically activated nearly all data transfer and access processes, which meant user data, including location details, browser and search history, keyboard entries and nearby wi-fi networks, automatically went to Microsoft.

In concluding its investigation, the FDPIC said the Windows 10 "quick access" and "customise settings" pages had not fully met transparency requirements. Information was lacking on the content of browser, feedback and diagnostic data, as well as on the length of time that transmitted data would be stored, it said.

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