Home > Latest News > Microsoft’s New AI Tool Faces Intense Security and Privacy Backlash

Microsoft’s New AI Tool Faces Intense Security and Privacy Backlash

A new AI tool called Recall which Microsoft unveiled as recently as last month is already facing a major security and privacy backlash.

The tech company positioned the “Recall” feature for Copilot+ as a way to make users’ lives easier by capturing and storing screenshots of their desktop activity.

But as Wired reported recently, Ethical hacker Alex Hagenah has launched a tool, called TotalRecall, that shows how anyone with enough know-how and the right tools could steal the recalls saved on a Windows machine and access that data, encryption-free, on a target device.

Hagenah analyzed Windows Recall and found that the tool — which takes screen captures of a Windows machine every five seconds — stores the data completely unencrypted on the user’s computer.

Microsoft seems to have taken note of the concerns and has now made the Recall feature as an opt-in service for its upcoming range of Copilot+ PCs. Pavan Davuluri, corporate vice president of Windows and devices, addressed the issue in a blogpost and said, “We also know for people to get the full value out of experiences like Recall, they have to trust it. That’s why we are launching Recall in preview on Copilot+ PCs – to give customers a choice to engage with the feature early, or not.”

Before the Recall preview starts shipping to customers on June 18, Davuluri added that Microsoft is “updating the set-up experience of Copilot+ PCs to give people a clearer choice to opt-in to saving snapshots using Recall. If you don’t proactively choose to turn it on, it will be off by default.”

Also, users will also be required to use Windows’ “Hello” authentication process to enable the tool, and their “proof of presence” will be required if they want to view their timeline of saved activity or search through it in Recall.

Microsoft stressed that no internet or cloud connections are used to store and process snapshots and that those snapshots are stored locally on the user’s device. “You can disable saving snapshots, pause them temporarily, filter applications and websites from being in snapshots, and delete your snapshots at any time,” added Davuluri.

Addressing concerns of employees where the device is used in workplace settings, he said, “For customers using managed work devices, your IT administrator is provided the control to disable the ability to save snapshots. However, your IT administrator cannot enable saving snapshots on your behalf. The choice to enable saving snapshots is solely yours.”

Privacy concerns over AI on personal devices are raging. This week, Apple announced its partnership with OpenAI, which led to an instant reaction from Elon Musk who has threatened to ban Apple devices at his companies calling the latest move “an unacceptable security violation”.

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