Microsoft has been attacked over its "blatant disregard" for user privacy in the Windows 10 operating system.
The accusation was levelled at the company by rights group the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), which has heard from thousands of people who are fed up with the level of intrusion into their data and how they use their machine following the launch of a petition in June.
As a result the EFF has called on Microsoft to listen to its customers, of which more than 6,000 signed the online petition, and amend how Windows 10 operates to address these concerns.
"Otherwise, Microsoft may find that it has inadvertently discovered just how far it can push its users before they abandon a once-trusted company for a better, more privacy-protective solution," EFF's Amul Kalia said in a blog post.
First on EFF’s radar is Microsoft’s underhanded tactics to get people to upgrade to Windows 10, which have been well documented.
The organisation called out Microsoft’s shady installing of an app that kick-started the virus-like 'Get Windows 10' prompts, the tactic to make the operating system a recommended update so that it installed on machines alongside critical security patches, and the ridiculous ploy of changing the ‘X’ in the download prompt to mean 'yes please'.
"Time after time, with each update, Microsoft chose to employ questionable tactics to cause users to download a piece of software that many didn’t want," Kalia said.
"What users actually wanted didn’t seem to matter. In an extreme case, members of a wildlife conservation group in the African jungle felt that the automatic download of Windows 10 on a limited bandwidth connection could have endangered their lives if a forced upgrade had begun during a mission.”
The EFF also took umbrage at the amount of data Windows 10 gathers and sends to Microsoft.
For example, the EFF explained that if you use Cortana, and let’s be honest you don’t have much choice, Microsoft collects your location data, text input, voice input, touch input and web pages visited, along with telemetry data regarding general use of the computer, including programs run and for how long.
What’s more, unless you’re an enterprise Windows 10 user, you have to share at least some of this telemetry data with Microsoft and there’s no way to opt out.
The only way to dodge sending this data to Microsoft is to not install security updates which - you guessed it - Microsoft doesn't really recommend.
"Microsoft is claiming that giving ordinary users more privacy by letting them turn telemetry reporting down to its lowest level would risk their security since they would no longer get security updates," said the EFF.
The group warned that Microsoft can expect more lawsuits and government investigations if it continues to treat customers with such disregard.