The Strategist

France to make Microsoft stop "spying"

07/21/2016 - 16:46

The French authorities have demanded from Microsoft to cease online monitoring actions of Windows 10’s users if they haven’t logged in. The National Commission for Data Protection and Freedoms of France said that the American corporation also violates rules of storage European user data on the US servers. The company has three months to remove all shortcomings; otherwise, the IT giant will get under sanctions.

Ben Franske
Ben Franske
The National Commission for Data Protection and Freedoms of France (CNIL) has demanded from Microsoft to cease tracing French users of Windows 10. The regulator demanded from the company to align its activities with standards of the European and French legislation. Otherwise, the government will introduce sanctions.

As the regulator said in a statement released on Wednesday, CNIL "makes a demand to Microsoft to stop excessive data collection and surveillance of users' actions without their consent. It (the commission) also requires the company to provide adequate user data privacy". At the same time, the regulator noted that Microsoft collects information about each app downloaded for Windows 10, and about time that users spend in the application. Microsoft itself assures that the company collects such data to improve application performance and fix bugs, as well as to get better understanding of tastes and preferences of the audience. Ultimately, the obtained information is used for targeted advertising. The regulator considers such practices unnecessary and have not found a similar link between collection of data and improving quality of the company's products. Many users, however, complained that the ads are shown to them without any consent. The regulator stressed that it does not prohibit advertising activities of the Microsoft, but asks the US company to give users the ability to opt out of it. 

"The decision to place demands has been adopted after taking into account, among other factors, seriousness of the violations and the number of people affected by Microsoft’s activities (there are more than 10 million Windows users in France)", - said the regulator in a statement. 

Illegal transfer and storage of data on US servers is another complaint of the French regulator to Microsoft. CNIL argues that the IT giant uses principles of Safe Harbour law, which allowed US companies to store all the data about European users outside the EU, and which has been declared illegal by the European Court in October 2015. It was replaced by a new agreement, which was approved by the European Union on 12 July. The document provides a much more rigid regulation of data exchange between the EU and the US. 

In response to CNIL’s claims, Microsoft vice president David Heiner said the company does not violate conditions of transferring data to the US servers. Furthermore, he assured that the US corporation intends to cooperate with the French regulator, and will do everything necessary to meet the country’s requirements.