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This will be preaching to the choir for some readers, as you didn't exactly need another reason not to use Windows right? Microsoft's new Recall AI will take screenshots of everything you do and that sounds truly terrible. Spyware as a service, courtesy of Microsoft's push to stick AI into everything.

You might think I'm being perhaps a bit sensational here or even clickbaity, but no, this is actually genuinely what Recall does. As Microsoft said: "Recall uses Copilot+ PC advanced processing capabilities to take images of your active screen every few seconds", and not only just on their new ARM PCs, they said it will roll out to x86 platforms too via a Windows update.

What's the point? It's to give you a special timeline of your day (it stores up to 3 months worth of what you do), allowing you to go back through it and find things, highlight things, open the original application shown in pictures and eventually open up whatever you were working on in the right application with the right content at the time. Basically, some fancy-pants AI search going over everything you've done.

Microsoft do say the storage is local to your device, and is "protected using data encryption on your device" and even using BitLocker if you're on Windows 11 Pro or an enterprise Windows 11 SKU. Microsoft also claim it doesn't share it anywhere else, at all, no advertisers or Microsoft themselves. But, how far do we trust data being fed into a black-box AI that no one can really see what it's doing huh?

Here's the thing: straight from their own FAQ (scroll down) it notes how "Recall does not perform content moderation" and it will "not hide information such as passwords or financial account numbers". Oh wow, that sure sounds good for your privacy doesn't it. But don't worry it "does not take snapshots of certain kinds of content, including InPrivate web browsing sessions in Microsoft Edge" and "material protected with digital rights management (DRM)" is also protected. We can't have Netflix or Disney getting annoyed with it taking a shot of that movie you watched, nope.

I'm not even what you may call a "privacy nut". I use big-name stuff all the time, my main browser is plain ol' Google Chrome and you get the idea. But still, this is super weird.

What happens if someone else gets access to your device? Lost, stolen, sold (and you forgot to wipe) and so on. If you get hacked, they'll end up seeing everything, it's another major attack point. Yeah great it's stored on your device, but people and companies get broken open all the time, malicious orgs will have a real party with your data. There's plenty of other times people may end up with access to your device to think about, I'm not going to list them all of course.

You can hear Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speak about it to The Wall Street Journal, skip to 3:23:

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No thanks. I'll pass, forever. I never want this. It feels creepy and gross.

The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is already looking into it. No doubt others will be too. A privacy nightmare for everyone.

If you wish to try Linux, I can recommend Kubuntu which is my daily-driver.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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81 comments
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Liam Dawe May 23
Quoting: voxLiam, sorry for off-topic and kind of a personal question, but for the year or so you switched multiple distros as far as I can see. You tried fedora and endeavourOS if I remember correctly. I switched to endeavourOs partly because of you and the discussions here. Do you intend to share your experiences and thoughts on the state of the distros today and what was those things that kept you moving? Thanks!
I am currently on Kubuntu, it's stable and does what I need. I don't see the need to be on a constantly rolling distro, rolling always breaks too many little things for my tastes.
Finally it all makes sense now...... For decades when ive heard the name "Microsoft" the empire music from star wars would play in my head...... They truly are the evil empire.......

Just imagine the information Microsoft can gather with this AI and give it directly to the government(s) as part of Microsofts $5 billion deal with the Australian Government to bolster defence against cybercrime.......
Pengling May 23
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I almost posted about this on the forum last night, after watching this excellent video about it by Mutahar of SomeOrdinaryGamers on YouTube, funnily enough. Very relevant coverage for a Linux site, even if it is somewhat preaching to the choir!

I ditched Windows in 2004 (temporarily went to Mac OS X whilst waiting for Linux laptop support to improve to a level that suited me, which took a few more years), after numerous things about data-collection in Windows XP came to light (which I seem to recall wasn't disclosed or at least wasn't clear enough in the EULA, if I'm remembering right), which struck me as very untrustworthy and unsettling back then and prompted an immediate move away from it. It's long surprised me that people were willing to put up with that and with the way it's been ever since, but the technology being used against people today is even more frightening than it was back then.

Quoting: SzkodnixThe Year of Linux is near. I can feel it...
It certainly feels like a perfect storm is brewing! I've suspected it would come to this since the days of Windows XP, and now here we are. It's taken too long.

Quoting: StoneColdSpiderFinally it all makes sense now...... For decades when ive heard the name "Microsoft" the empire music from star wars would play in my head...... They truly are the evil empire.......
Now, that's a description I've not heard in a long time. A long time.

I believe this feature requires an NPU chip. That might be a requirement for OEMs to have a Windows 11 certified computer now; I'm not sure.

QuoteWhat happens if someone else gets access to your device? Lost, stolen, sold (and you forgot to wipe) and so on. If you get hacked, they'll end up seeing everything, it's another major attack point. Yeah great it's stored on your device, but people and companies get broken open all the time, malicious orgs will have a real party with your data. There's plenty of other times people may end up with access to your device to think about, I'm not going to list them all of course.
This is why it's a good thing Microsoft made TPM a requirement and enabled Bitlocker by default, meaning all Windows 11 computers will be securely encrypted with Bitlocker. Even if your computer gets stolen, the hacker still needs to crack the password.

What's more concerning is malware, as once they have administrative access, the attacker will have easy access to all of your data. Stuff you wouldn't have even thought was sensitive or important.

QuoteOh wow, that sure sounds good for your privacy doesn't it. But don't worry it "does not take snapshots of certain kinds of content, including InPrivate web browsing sessions in Microsoft Edge" and "material protected with digital rights management (DRM)" is also protected. We can't have Netflix or Disney getting annoyed with it taking a shot of that movie you watched, nope.
Microsoft would need to circumvent their own API that makes it impossible for the user to take screenshots of Netflix or Disney+. But, yeah, putting those two things together really does tell you who matters most to Microsoft.

QuoteBut, how far do we trust data being fed into a black-box AI that no one can really see what it's doing huh?
Exactly zero.
LoudTechie May 23
Quoting: pleasereadthemanualI believe this feature requires an NPU chip. That might be a requirement for OEMs to have a Windows 11 certified computer now; I'm not sure.

QuoteWhat happens if someone else gets access to your device? Lost, stolen, sold (and you forgot to wipe) and so on. If you get hacked, they'll end up seeing everything, it's another major attack point. Yeah great it's stored on your device, but people and companies get broken open all the time, malicious orgs will have a real party with your data. There's plenty of other times people may end up with access to your device to think about, I'm not going to list them all of course.
This is why it's a good thing Microsoft made TPM a requirement and enabled Bitlocker by default, meaning all Windows 11 computers will be securely encrypted with Bitlocker. Even if your computer gets stolen, the hacker still needs to crack the password.

What's more concerning is malware, as once they have administrative access, the attacker will have easy access to all of your data. Stuff you wouldn't have even thought was sensitive or important.

QuoteOh wow, that sure sounds good for your privacy doesn't it. But don't worry it "does not take snapshots of certain kinds of content, including InPrivate web browsing sessions in Microsoft Edge" and "material protected with digital rights management (DRM)" is also protected. We can't have Netflix or Disney getting annoyed with it taking a shot of that movie you watched, nope.
Microsoft would need to circumvent their own API that makes it impossible for the user to take screenshots of Netflix or Disney+. But, yeah, putting those two things together really does tell you who matters most to Microsoft.

QuoteBut, how far do we trust data being fed into a black-box AI that no one can really see what it's doing huh?
Exactly zero.

What mcirosoft didn't disclose with their TPM requirement is that breaking bitlocker of the TPM they required at first(hardware based) is so easy that a teacher suggested it as a project in my first year of embedded software engineering. This is the relevant trick..
Doesn't work for fTPM, but that only got allowed when it turned out that gamers with game pcs can be very loud.
Drakker May 23
Quoting: dvdI guess they will make bank of Gigacorps paying for it being disabled. I can already imagine the IT department and the management freaking out about this.

Upper management be like:
Finally! An easy way to measure "productivity"! No need to freak the slaves employees with the rootkit screen shot app thingy and the webcam randomly turning on anymore, it's all done for us, no special config needed!
Lofty May 23
QuoteI'm not even what you may call a "privacy nut".

Although this is a common turn of phrase. It's time we removed the association of conspiracy theorist with a human right to privacy. In the early day's people were far more trusting of technology and saw it as largely altruistic and a benefit to society (which with opensource it still can be) but invariably the usual shadowy forces do their thing and here we are.

i don't feel like im a 'nut' i.e nutter <=> mentally unstable for wanting some privacy on my digital devices.


Last edited by Lofty on 23 May 2024 at 1:33 pm UTC
Eike May 23
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Quoting: Lofty
QuoteI'm not even what you may call a "privacy nut".

Although this is a common turn of phrase. It's time we removed the association of conspiracy theorist with a human right to privacy.

I agree.

Quoting: LoftyIn the early day's people were far more trusting of technology and saw it as largely altruistic and a benefit to society (which with opensource it still can be) but invariably the usual shadowy forces do their thing and here we are.

[bolding by me]

... but this does sound... conspirational.
Lofty May 23
Quoting: Eike
Quoting: Lofty
QuoteI'm not even what you may call a "privacy nut".

Although this is a common turn of phrase. It's time we removed the association of conspiracy theorist with a human right to privacy.

I agree.

Quoting: LoftyIn the early day's people were far more trusting of technology and saw it as largely altruistic and a benefit to society (which with opensource it still can be) but invariably the usual shadowy forces do their thing and here we are.

[bolding by me]

... but this does sound... conspirational.

Maybe they aren't out in public stood on a box selling you data viewable on a large screen but im perfectly happy to identify groups tucked away in some monolithic corporate box connected to a vast data center sharing deeply personal information about you or your loved ones to the highest bidder as shadowy forces.

To me that is the usual shadowy forces. i couldn't think of a better phrase as my "tin foil" hat is blocking the connection to my neural-link Ai brain feed.

if you cant think of a better turn of phrase then let me know.


Last edited by Lofty on 23 May 2024 at 1:34 pm UTC
kshade May 23
It's good that you need some "premium" AI accelerator for this to work, but I also wouldn't be surprised if they decided that it has been "so successful" (read: not enough people buy the hardware) that the less fortunate will get access too - using the power of the cloud, of course.
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