Built-in Vista probing tools exposed

Written by Tim Smalley

July 3, 2007 | 10:33

Tags: #agreement #collection #data #end #exposed #gathering #information #license #privacy #probing #snooping #statement #tools #user #vista #windows

Companies: #microsoft

A report on Softpedia has revealed more than 20 different Vista features and services that harvest user data for Microsoft and (dare I say it) to the software giant's credit, it makes no secret about the fact Windows Vista is gathering information.

Whether or not the data harvesting is right, Microsoft provides both a Windows Vista Privacy Statement and there are also references to the data collection services in the End User License Agreement (PDF) that you agree to when you are installing the operating system.

However, what's disappointing is the fact that Microsoft has admitted that the list provided under the Windows Vista Privacy Statement is far from exhaustive. Indeed, Softpedia says that there are another 47 Windows Vista features and services that collect data. Not all of these phone home, but the report claims that around 50 percent of these items do contact Microsoft.

There is no indication of what actually happens to the data collected by Microsoft via Windows Vista but, based on two excerpts from the Windows Vista Privacy Statement, the software giant is in two minds as to how it'll use the data collected from your machine.

Almost right at the start of the Privacy statement, Microsoft says that it will not use the information it gathers to identify Windows Vista users, but just a couple of paragraphs further down the statement, the company reveals that it can use the data it collects against you if it wanted to, or was forced to.

You can read a full breakdown of the services Microsoft is using to collect data on end users here. Our best advice is that if you don't want your data sent to Microsoft, don't install Windows Vista.

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