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January 25, 2018

Microsoft Is Uploading Files from Your Computer

You may be in breach of nondisclosure agreements.

While setting up a new computer, I was horrified to see this default security setting:


This says that documents you’re working on, spreadsheets, confidential presentations, personal pictures, clever algorithms, or anything else on your computer may be uploaded to Microsoft at any time without your knowledge. How does Microsoft decide what is “personal”? Do they notify you or do they ask you if they are uploading personal information? What if the document is top secret but impersonal?

How much of your company’s confidential information is already at Microsoft? What if the document contains material non-public information about a public company; will the SEC hold you liable if it gets out? Maybe you obtained the document under a confidentiality agreement and aren’t allowed to share it; you just did.

How is Microsoft protecting your data, which it shouldn’t have in the first place, from unauthorized use by its own employees or hackers? How does Microsoft know that you are on a secure connection while it is happily transmitting your data? The only assurance in their privacy statement is that they won’t use this data to target you for specific advertising.

Are you worried about government surveillance? The government may be getting your data from Microsoft with or without a subpoena. Are you involved in a lawsuit? How long before opposing council demands your documents from Microsoft.

Having this option on by default is an outrage. [Note: I found it turned on in Windows 10 on a Lenovo X1 Carbon; it is possible that the setting is different in different versions of Windows or on different machines. Note also that this "feature" is part of Windows Defender, the default ant-virus program distributed with Windows. You don't need to worry about this if you are using other anti-virus programs. ]

 Here’ s how to check the setting and turn off document pilfering in Windows 10:


Start by clicking the arrow circled below in the taskbar.

Next click the shield.


Scroll down and you’ll be able to turn off this worse-than-intrusive option. However, your shield like mine will now have a yellow exclamation point. Microsoft wants you to know you are unsafe because you won’t let them spy on you.

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