Windows 10 Includes Child-Monitoring Spyware for Parents


One of operating system Windows 10′s many features might be especially interesting to parents, since it offers a comprehensive report on a child’s activity delivered weekly to a parent’s inbox — and the feature is turned on by default.

Max Slater-Robins writes for Entrepeneur that the feature is explained on Microsoft’s Windows 10 online documentation and actually allows parents to “monitor [their] child’s device use with activity reports.”  The weekly reports detail the websites your child has visited, which apps she has used, how long she used these apps, and how many hours a day she has spent on the PC.

The Independent says that as children grow they may use the internet as an anonymous way to learn more about things of a sensitive nature, like homosexuality, and a detailed report to parents could “lead to trouble.” Another concern is the lack of privacy for children even if the intentions are good. Some also wondered if Microsoft receives the information even if the parents have not signed up for the service.

Some said the feature conjured up the “Big Brother” concepts in Orwell’s novel “1984.” Others were worried that it could put LGBT kids in real danger. One commenter called the service “straight up child abuse.” Microsoft already ran into trouble when it was discovered that your PC will upload data to Microsoft’s cloud even when you explicitly told it not to do so.

The feature is only extended to accounts that are linked between parents and their children, but the implications remain. A child whose every internet move is recorded and analyzed could very well feel as if he has lost his personal freedom. There are several types of information which could be damaging within a family and have the potential of leading to mental or physical abuse, reports The Irish Examiner.

The option to block a website you do not want your child to see is also available, as is the capability to restrict your child’s access to games or apps. Parents can even schedule time outs after a certain number of minutes. Conversely, parents can turn the reporting off completely to give your children the kind of privacy that you enjoy online daily.

Andrew Griffin of The Independent reports that the monitoring can be secret, meaning it can be done on the sly without your children even knowing you are watching their every move. Others are concerned that this is the first step toward teaching children from a very young age that their every motion is being digitally observed and that they should censor themselves accordingly.

“This weekend we upgraded my 14-year-old son’s laptop from Windows 8 to Windows 10,” wrote a Boing Boing reader in an email to the site. “Today I got a creepy-ass email from Microsoft titled ‘Weekly activity report for [my kid]‘, including which websites he’s visited, how many hours per day he’s used it, and how many minutes he used each of his favorite apps.”

Nitya Rajan of The Huffington Post UK writes that the software could result in a serious lack of trust between parents and children.