US tech giant Microsoft has been pulled up by the French data protection authority for collecting excessive data from users of its Windows 10 operating system and bombarding them with personalised ads without their consent. A similar action was taken against social networking giant Facebook in February as well.
According to the order, the company has been given three months to stop tracking browsing history of users for use by Windows and third-party apps that can offer them targeted advertising without their consent. In the past the company has been accused of monitoring data like what apps users download and how much time they spend on each one. Moreover, an advertising ID is activated by default when Windows 10 is installed and the OS gives the user no option to block cookies.
Microsoft, which has close to 10 million Windows 10 users in France, issued a statement with regard to the order saying, "We built strong privacy protections into Windows 10, and we welcome feedback as we continually work to enhance those protections. We will work closely with the CNIL (Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés) over the next few months to understand the agency's concerns fully and to work toward solutions that it will find acceptable."
The company also said it will release an updated privacy statement in August when it officially signs the Privacy Shield agreement. The new EU-US data transfer pact that will be open to companies from 1 August will allow organisations to transfer data across the Atlantic but thoroughly govern how multinational companies handle the private data of EU residents. In case companies are found violating these terms fines could go up to 4% of a company's annual global turnover.