Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 and Your Privacy

by Don Trauger – Kennett

I’ve just read about Amazon’s new Fire phone. A reporter describes it “as the most effective device ever sold to harvest the owner’s personal data”. The phone uses its camera and microphone to collect your data then uploads it to Amazon’s servers. Then it returns the results to you. This happens when you press a button on the phone that activates the camera and microphone and at the same time it sends your GPS location. If you use the built-in web browser in the phone your privacy is compromised even further. One good thing is you can delete any image or recording the camera and microphone sends to Amazon.

This month’s article is not about mobile phone privacy but it’s about Windows 8.1 privacy. It’s interesting to note that as advances are made in technology, especially with consumer items, your personal data is being compromised almost every step of the way. Windows 8.1 doesn’t go as far as the Fire phone but it has some privacy settings that should be reviewed.

To adjust your privacy settings move the mouse pointer to either the extreme upper right of lower right corners. Hold it there until you see the Charms bar pop out from the right side of the screen. Click the gear (Settings) at bottom of the bar, then click Change PC settings at the bottom. Next, click Privacy in the list on the left side of the screen. Under General my recommendation’s settings that all the settings but one should be turned off. The one that should be on is the SmartScreen filter. To change a setting click on gray space opposite the little black bar. If a setting is grayed out it means it cannot be changed. Next, click on Location. All of the settings should be turned off. Click Webcam and turn off all the settings. I know some of you use Skype so you can turn it on when needed. Clicking Microphone you will see Skype again so it needs to be on when using that program

The idea behind Windows 8.1’s Privacy that it too will harvest your personal data if you permit it. Maybe it’s not as bad as the Fire phone but it certainly is crafted along the same lines.

Get answers to your Windows 8.1 questions at the PC Club meetings. We meet on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7 PM upstairs in the Community Center. We can demonstrate the answers and monthly topics on the projection screen with our computer that runs Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.