Windows 10 automatically spies on your children and sends you a dossier of their activity

Kirk writes, "This weekend we upgraded my 14-year-old son's laptop from Windows 8 to Windows 10. 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."

I don't want this. I have no desire to spy on my boy. I fixed it by going into my Microsoft account's website, hitting the "Family" section, then turning off "Email weekly reports to me" and "Activity reporting".

OK, I admit that the timing might be coincidental but that would be one hell of a coincidence. I've never seen anything like this until we upgraded to Windows 10, and then I got the spy report the following business day.

A message to young readers: if you have Windows 10 now, your parents might be getting the same kind of report I did. Don't assume your own computer has your back.

Notable Replies

  1. gcfio says:

    Windows 8 did this already. My last laptop turned it on automatically when I created child accounts on my windows 8.0 laptop. You can toggle it off. It probably had to recreate the accounts when upgrading to 10 and did it with default settings.

  2. Breaking News: Doctorow discovers the telephone. News at 5.

    This has been around since Windows 8. the only difference is the email. In Win10, you get an explicit "family" link. that sets this up. you can easily disable if you read the setup page. i.e.

  3. For the same reason I don't need parental controls on his bicycle, his library card or his hockey stick.

  4. That's the argument I hear when people ask why Boing Boing only keeps access logs for three days (to help us track internal issues, and so we don't track our visitors long-term), that it's just a log. But logs out of context can be misinterpreted, used to paint a false picture of intent, let alone for more nefarious reasons.

    "More data!" is not the answer here. Otherwise, why wouldn't you just GPS track your kids and stick a body cam on for good measure? If done discreetly and unobtrusively, it's just there for a log of activity to review, right?

    Sure, some people probably so want to raise their children in that sort of environment. But I don't personally believe the only way to keep kids "safe" is to have them explain every action they ever take, and that's what logs like this promote.

    As an aside, in the event of a divorce could I subpoena this log from Microsoft and use it to prove Parental Misconduct based on my child's browser habits? Could the government use it to take children away from their parents?

  5. Miros says:

    Had this been a feature back in Windows 95, my parents would have known that I was questioning my sexuality years before I was ready for them to know.

    Thankfully, my parents were fine with it when I was ready to tell them. But I can find it far too easy to imagine a scenario where parents receiving this Win10 email would react with extreme negativity to discovering the kind of information (and, lets be honest: porn) that would have been in my "am I gay?" browser history report.

    Feel free to swap out "homosexuality" with [child or adult] abuse hotlines, transgender info, sex education.... the kind of things abusive, nutbar, helecopter, tiger-parents react violently to.

    In best-case, perfect-world scenario: sure, this could be a useful feature. In reality, this has the possibility of causing a nightmare scenario.

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