You’re welcome. Open source is all about donating our time to things we love, and time is a valuable asset. So I thought it was worth entering the details of what might have turned out a dead-end quest which could have taken up a lot of your time (which you could have invested elsewhere in the FOSS world).
Ah, sharing diagnostic data vs privacy! Indeed, a big deal.
The problem with all those privacy settings (on any proprietary OS, web service, etc.) is that in most cases they give you the illusion of having control over your data privacy. In most cases, these settings were enforced due to privacy laws and regulations, but it doesn’t mean they are really giving control over every aspect of their data collecting activities on your machine.
E.g. FakeBook gives you the option to remove posts, images, etc., but in reality it’s only removing them from being publicly viewable, not from its databases.
The problem with proprietary tools and services is that you always have to agree to some EULA contract before starting to use it (paying for it and installing it is not enough), which means you agree to their terms of services and all the legal stuff (often including future updates of the EULA terms).
Windows (and in particular Win10) is an OS which is designed to gather a lot of statistic about its end users, and to then transmit them to MS. The new laws on privacy have forced MS (and other OS producers) to be more transparent on the data they collect, and to offer opt-out options for some types of data — but you are still bound to the minimum agreements of the EULA, which of course are written in legal-jargon by shark-lawyers who’s only goal is to keep the end user in the dark about the nitty gritty of what’s really happening, and to legally cover their clients’ shoulders for any undesirable outcome.
What’s worst, is that different tools and services most often work in concert to share different gather data and collate them to make a better snapshot of their users than you’d imagine by reading the single information of each individual product. Many services are ultimately owned by the same corporation, or eventually end up being acquired by one. The major players in big-data collections are few in number, and we all known the names of those Internet giants. What is less known is what they do with all that data. You often discover that they are using it for market trends predictions, or that they are lending/reselling it to others, or sharing it with government agencies, etc. But it’s not always easy to know were the boundaries between speculation and truth lies there, although some good books and documenters have been scratching the surface of this problem.
The point is that if you want a secure OS you shouldn’t be using Windows, or macOS, at all. But then, you’ll also need to be careful about each single application you install, every service you subscribe to, etc. Being secure in the digital world is not an easy task, but you’ll find there’s a whole movement dedicated to Internet freedom and privacy, providing tools and guidelines on how to minimize risks.
This might be a good website to start from:
If you’re worried about your OS security, you should consider QubesOS:
This OS is designed to use a disposable VM for simple operations like opening a PDF or Doc file (which are very dangerous to open) so that even if they contain malicious code/macros they will be executing in a use-once sand-box.
And even with all these complex precautions, QubeOS is still describe as being a “reasonably secure operating system” — so, you can imagine how insecure an OS like Windows can be, in comparison.
Personally, in everyday life I often opt to accept that tools I like gather statistic about my usage. I’m not one of those who justify digital surveillance by saying “I’ve nothing to hide!”, which is terrible because privacy is about individual freedom and limiting the power of government and big corporations to interfere with our freedom. The point is that being aware as I am about how these OSs work, I believe that once you’ve installed them and use them, all these other privacy choices are just small details.
I need to use an OS like Windows for professional reasons, and I like it, even if I’m aware of its privacy issues. What really matters is being aware of the situation. Always assume your data is (or will be) accessible to someone, and act accordingly.