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  • Win10 “Activity History” — misnomer or snoop?

    Posted on December 14th, 2018 at 07:59 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Another important story where I’m slow on the uptake. (Sorry, been very busy. You’ll see why shortly.)

    Chris Hoffman at How-To Geek broke this on Monday:

    Windows 10 collects an “Activity History” of applications you launch on your PC and sends it to Microsoft. Even if you disable or clear this, Microsoft’s Privacy Dashboard still shows an “Activity History” of applications you’ve launched on your PCs.

    Chris goes through details on how your “activity history” gets snooped  — Microsoft collects and stores a list of which programs you use and when. The list gets collected even when you turn Activity History off: Click Start > Settings > Privacy. On the left choose Activity History and uncheck “Send my activity history to Microsoft.”

    In Win10 version 1809 I don’t see a button to clear my Activity history (see screenshot). Apparently Chris is working with 1803 or an earlier version, where the Clear activity history option is at the bottom of the Activity History Settings pane.

    Even after you’ve stopped collecting Activity History and blasted it away by clicking on Clear Activity History (which, again, doesn’t appear on my 1809 test machine), your history still appears in Microsoft’s coffers, which you can see by signing into the cutesy web site called Privacy Dashboard and clicking the tab at the top marked Activity History. You can see how my Activity history is still being collected, even after turning off “Send my activity history to Microsoft.”

    Microsoft says it’s a case of mixed definitions — “Activity history” in the Windows Settings app is different from “Activity history” on the Privacy Dashboard Activity History tab. According to Microsoft, the only way to avoid sending your entire app history to their big data collection agency is by turning off “Send my activity history to Microsoft” and setting Diagnostic data collection (Start > Settings > Privacy, on the left choose Diagnostics & feedback) to “Basic,” instead of “Full.”

    As Microsoft says, per Chris:

    Windows 10 Activity History data is only a subset of the data displayed in the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard. We are working to address this naming issue in a future update.

    I’m sure there are some folks on the EU GDPR compliance team who’d be interested in that little, uh, misnomer.

    Any of you running Win10 1809… I’d sure be curious to know if you can find the Clear Activity History button.

    And… tell me again how Chromebooks are collecting so much more data than Windows machines?