Microsoft automatically collects data about the people using its products and services, often storing that data in the cloud. To make it easier for users to see what information is being collected and stored about them, Microsoft has launched a new, web-based privacy dashboard. If you have a Microsoft account and use any of the company’s products or services, consider checking it out.
Besides letting you view the data, the privacy dashboard gives you the option of removing it from the cloud. The dashboard also lets you know how to stop your data from being collected in the future.
To access the privacy dashboard, you need to go to the Stay in control of your privacy web page and sign in with your Microsoft account information. From the dashboard, you can view the following types of data and remove them from the cloud if desired:
- Cortana data: Cortana is a personal digital assistant found in Windows 10 computers, Windows 10 Mobile and Windows Phone 8.1 smartphones, and a few other devices. To provide personalized recommendations, Cortana collects and stores information about you from various sources, including your emails, text messages, calendar entries, and contacts.
- Browsing history: Cortana gathers and stores your browsing history in Microsoft Edge to help answer your questions and provide personalized suggestions. This information is separate from the browsing data that Edge stores on your device. Clearing the browsing history through the privacy dashboard will remove your browsing history from the cloud but not from your device.
- Search history: When you use the Bing search engine while logged in to your Microsoft account, the company stores your search history in the cloud.
- Location data: Microsoft stores the last known location of your Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 devices in the cloud. It also stores location data from Bing and health-related GPS-based activities.
- Health data: If you subscribe to Microsoft Health or HealthVault, your activity and fitness data (e.g., daily steps taken, heart rate) is stored in the cloud. Plus, any medical records you put into the HealthVault are stored there.
The privacy dashboard also has links to resources that discuss how to manage the privacy settings for other Microsoft products and services, such as Office and Skype. In addition, it includes links to the pages on which you can manage your third-party advertising and Microsoft marketing preferences. Microsoft plans to add more functionality and data categories to the dashboard in the future.