Microsoft Makes Recall An Opt-In Feature Over Privacy Measures

Microsoft announced that it will modify its new AI-powered Recall (preview) feature for Copilot+ PCs to address privacy concerns raised by privacy and security experts.

The Redmond giant said that the Recall feature will now be an opt-in feature, which means it will be turned off by default.

In other words, Windows will activate Recall only if users manually opt-in to use this feature during the setup of a Copilot+ PC using Windows 11.

Users will be required to log in using some form of biometric authentication, such as fingerprint or facial recognition.

For those unaware, Microsoft introduced the forthcoming Copilot+ PCs on May 20, which included “Recall” as one of the exclusive AI features.

This feature is said to help users find something instantly that they may have previously done or looked at on a Copilot+ PC.

To build an explorable visual timeline, Recall takes a snapshot of what appears on the user’s screen every few seconds.

This snapshot is then encrypted, stored, and analyzed locally, using on-device AI capabilities to understand the context.

However, security and privacy experts, as well as people who tested an early version of the software, voiced concerns over data storage and access, as the Recall feature wouldn’t hide any sensitive or confidential information captured in the screenshots.

In order to resolve these potential privacy implications, Microsoft is making changes before it starts rolling out Recall later this month.

Pavan Davuluri, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Windows and Devices, listed the changes in a Microsoft blog post on Friday and said they were made in response to feedback from the customers.

“Today, we are sharing an update on the Recall (preview) feature for Copilot+ PCs, including more information on the setup experience, privacy controls, and additional details on our approach to security,” he wrote.

“Even before making Recall available to customers, we have heard a clear signal that we can make it easier for people to choose to enable Recall on their Copilot+ PC and improve privacy and security safeguards.”

Davuluri outlined the following three changes that Microsoft is bringing to Recall, an important feature of the upcoming ARM-powered Copilot+ PCs, which are scheduled to launch on June 18.

  • First, the company is updating the set-up experience of Copilot+ PCs to offer users a clearer choice to opt-in to saving snapshots using Recall. This feature will be turned off by default and must be manually turned on if they wish to use it.
  • Second, Microsoft will be required to use the Windows “Hello” authentication process to enable Recall, and proof of presence is also required if they wish to view their timeline of saved activity and search on Recall.
  • Third, the company is adding “additional layers of data protection” to Recall, including “just in time” decryption, which is protected by Windows Hello Enhanced Sign-in Security (ESS).
    This means Recall snapshots will only be decrypted and accessible when the user authenticates. In addition, Microsoft has encrypted Recall’s search index database to provide an extra layer of security to user data.

Davuluri further added that Recall’s other Window Security features, like SmartScreen and Defender, have been enabled by default.

These features use advanced AI methods to help prevent malware from accessing data like Recall.

“As we always do, we will continue to listen to and learn from our customers, including consumers, developers and enterprises, to evolve our experiences in ways that are meaningful to them,” Davuluri wrote.

The updates will take effect before Recall (preview) ships to customers on June 18.

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Kavita Iyer
Kavita Iyer
An individual, optimist, homemaker, foodie, a die hard cricket fan and most importantly one who believes in Being Human!!!


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