Last week, we looked at the desirability of privacy on the Internet, and the sad state of current affairs where seemingly every major Internet company wants to deny us that ability.
No matter what Internet-connected device you use, the principles of attaining privacy, and the safety it enables, are pretty much the same: closing and locking the doors. If you are a member of the “I don’t have anything to hide, what do I care,” crowd, read on; you may not be beyond hope. So, without further editorializing, let’s look at how privacy and safety can be achieved with Microsoft’s Windows 10.
How your computer has been set up determines how you will access some of the settings involved. If you have an actual Windows 7-style “Start” button, with an “All Programs” section, the newer Windows 10 settings will be found in “PC Settings.” If you are using the horrid “Tiles” interface, accessed by clicking the lopsided Window icon in the lower left corner, sporting rows of moving and changing rectangles doing different things, then you will be going to “Settings,” usually by clicking the little gear-shaped icon. Both methods will get you to the same place, just look for the “Settings” gear or click “PC Settings.”
If you are unfortunate enough to have been tricked into setting up a Microsoft account (with username and password) as part of setting up Windows 10 for the first time, Microsoft is storing your browsing history, location data, search history and other items in two different places: online in “the cloud” on their computers, and in your computer, as well. You will need to tend to both areas.
To access your “Privacy Dashboard” and change what Microsoft stores about you online, go to account.microsoft.com/privacy and sign in. I would visit every section here, clear everything out and set everything to “Off.” I would also visit https://choice.microsoft.com/en-US/opt-out and do the same thing. Set all Personalized Ads sections to “Off.”
Turn your attention next to the computer, itself. The following section assumes your version of Windows 10 is completely up-to-date with the “Creators Update,” as of August 20, 2017. If yours is not, get it that way first, and then return to these instructions. To see if you have Creators Update, go to Start/PC Settings/System/About. It should say you have Version 1703.
When your computer is ready, click your Start button in the lower left corner and go to PC Settings (or, click the gear and go to Settings). Then, click the Privacy section. This is where things start to get interesting. On the left side of the screen, you will see 18 different sections that allow you to affect various privacy-related changes. Click a section on the left, and you will see its related settings on the right.
Generally speaking, you will be turning everything “Off,” with very few exceptions. In the “General” section, where it says “Change privacy options,” turn everything off. Then, back to the left side of the window and click “Location.” Turn everything Off. Then, at the bottom of that section, select “Clear History.”
Then, back to the left side and select Camera. Turn it Off. About the only exception I’ll make here is to individually change each app to Off, with the exception of Skype.
Continued next week in “Privacy with Windows 10: is it possible? Part Three.”