Windows 10 – Abusing children’s privacy by spying on them

Spying on your children has become much easier with Windows 10. Parents that create a family account receive a weekly email that provides an overview of which websites their kids visit, which apps they use and how long they’ve used the computer.

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On Windows 10, the parent can set up child accounts that are monitored by the governing parent account and account activity is being logged by Windows Family. Windows Family then simply reports every little detail to the parent account.

The feature is enabled by default and also sends details on which search queries children have typed in search engines like Bing, Yahoo and Google. Visited sites and used apps are displayed in an overview which allows parents to block either the app or site with a single mouse click.

On its website Microsoft explains the feature which it refers to as “Monitor your child’s device activity”. The email overview that shows what a child did on the computer is called an activity report.

On the page Microsoft writes, “the email summary gives you a lot of info about your child’s PC activities at a glance. But you can always delve into more details—and change permissions and other settings based on the activity info”.

Now with the games kids may be playing this might not be such a huge invasion of privacy, but surfing habits is a different matter. Children have an equal right to privacy as adults do, some Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) organisations say.

Children may surf to LGBT related websites with questions or seeking help. Teens or young adults that have discovered their gender sexuality may not immediately want to inform their parents, for fear of being unaccepted. Exposing people in the LGBT community to the outside world that are not ready for it can simply be dangerous.

Parents that created a family account, but never wanted to spy on their children, found out about the option when they first received the overview mails. It was unclear to the parents and their children that the operating system tracked and stored everything happening on the computer. The concerned parents argue the feature violates the privacy of their children.