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    Microsoft Makes Changes To Its “Recall” Feature Before Release Amid Privacy Concerns

    To address the privacy concerns being raised around its ‘Recall’ feature, Microsoft has changed how the feature will be enabled. The feature will now be in an “opt-in” mode, and unless the users choose to save the snapshots taken by Recall, the feature will be disabled by default. 

    To access the Recall feature, users must undergo a “Windows Hello” enrollment, which involves signing in via facial recognition. The company says that it has added “just in time” decryption, protected by Windows Hello sign-in, which means that Recall snapshots will be decrypted and accessible only when authenticated by the user. 

    The search index database, through which Recall would find what a user is looking for, has also been encrypted. These updates will be put into effect before the Recall (preview) ships to customers on June 18.

    Some context:

    Introduced on May 20 as a part of the launch of a new category of Windows PCs—Copilot+PC, Recall is a feature that takes snapshots of users’ active screens every few seconds. The intent behind this feature was to allow users to find a specific item within all the apps a user operates on their Copilot+PC. Once the user finds the snapshot they were looking for in Recall, it will be analyzed to offer the user options to interact with the content. The feature will enable users to open the snapshot in the original application in which it was created. 

    Soon after its launch, the feature saw pushback with some comparing it to ‘spyware’. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) also announced that it would be making inquiries into the feature for more information about the safeguards Microsoft has in place to ensure user privacy when using the feature. 

    Recently, an ethical hacker named Alex Hagenah released a demo tool called ‘Total Recall’ that was able to extract and display everything Microsoft’s Recall (preview version) recorded on the laptop, as per a Wired report. Haganeah told Wired that his demo tool can automatically work out where the Recall database is on a laptop and then make a copy of the file, parsing all the data as it does so. He mentioned that as a result of this feature, hackers could get a wide range of sensitive information about the Copilot+PC users and emphasized the fact that the data had been kept unencrypted. 

    Other privacy clarifications made by Microsoft:

    • Users will see a Recall snapshot icon on the system tray letting them know when the feature is taking a screenshot.
    • The feature doesn’t take screenshots of digital rights managed (DRM) content. Digital Rights Management is the use of technology to manage access to copyrighted content. It enables content creators to restrict users from sharing or taking screenshots of their content. 
    • Users can pause, filter, and delete screenshots at any time. They can also disable saving snapshots, pause them temporarily, and filter applications and websites from being in snapshots.
    • For someone using a work device, the IT administrator is provided the control to disable the ability to save snapshots. However, the administrator cannot enable screenshot saving on behalf of the user.

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    The post Microsoft Makes Changes To Its “Recall” Feature Before Release Amid Privacy Concerns appeared first on MEDIANAMA.

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