It's no big secret that Windows tends to snoop around on users, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) warns that Windows 10 collects an "unprecedented amount" of data.

Windows 10 has been in the spotlight recently, and not with good news. The much-touted Anniversary Update brought along a number of issues, including breaking webcams, messing with SharePoint, Skype and more.

Issues surrounding Windows 10, however, are older than the Anniversary Update, as Microsoft has long been criticized for its aggressive push and wide data collection through its latest operating system.

A recent report from the EFF now takes such concerns to the next level, claiming that Windows 10 collects more user data than ever before. The organization had previously deemed WhatsApp as the worst software for user privacy, but it has now focused its attention on Microsoft's latest OS.

"Windows 10 sends an unprecedented amount of usage data back to Microsoft," warns the EFF's Amul Kalia.

"Here's a non-exhaustive list of data sent back: location data, text input, voice input, touch input, webpages you visit, and telemetry data regarding your general usage of your computer, including which programs you run and for how long."

Windows 10 users should also be aware that enabling Cortana, Microsoft's virtual assistant, adds to even more data sent back to Microsoft. While the EFF reckons that Cortana can be useful to many users and offering the services it offers cannot be done without data collection, it criticizes Microsoft for not offering the option to sever any and all communication between its servers and users' devices.

Although users can choose to disable some settings, it's no guarantee that their Windows 10 machine will cease collecting data and sending it back to Microsoft. Of particular concern is telemetry data, the EFF points out, as the user has no way of opting out of sharing such data with Microsoft.

Back in September 2015, Microsoft explained that Windows 10 does collect various personalization and telemetry data, but users can turn off some features to reduce the amount of information being collected. At that point, the company said that only app crash information, device ID and other such information will be sent back to Microsoft, but private data such as user emails, account IDs and other sensitive information remain private, secure and will not be collected.

Despite Microsoft's claims, reiterated time and time again, Windows 10 data collection continues to be a sore topic and the company's aggressive push to get its latest OS installed on as many devices as possible stirred plenty of criticism as well.

Just last month, for instance, Microsoft pushed full-screen Windows 10 upgrade notifications to make them harder to ignore, as the free upgrade period was approaching its end on July 29.

The EFF report notes that Microsoft resorted to "downright malicious" tactics to get users of older Windows versions to upgrade to the latest OS, repeatedly trumping users' choices and testing their patience. The annoying upgrade system tray app that kept changing, the move to push Windows 10 as a recommended upgrade and a number of other schemes designed to aggressively push Windows 10 have drawn severe criticism, with many complaining that Microsoft is nearly harassing users to upgrade.

"There's no doubt that Windows 10 has some great security improvements over previous versions of the operating system. But it's a shame that Microsoft made users choose between having privacy and security," adds the EFF.

Lastly, the organization urges Microsoft to come clean and offer some real choices to users, implementing substantial opt-outs that would actually work. At the same time, the company should separate security updates from OS updates in the future and should no longer attempt to bypass users' privacy expectations and choices.

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