By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica
Expats retire to Costa Rica to get away from the hustle and bustle of
life. The problem: Retirees usually bring a computer, tablet and a
smartphone along with them so they can stay in contact with loved ones
back home. Most do not realize these devices are like sticking
Orwellian big brothers in the goods they pack.
Windows 10 was released last Thursday. The software is Microsoft’s
latest version of its most popular operating system. In the first 72
hours after its introduction, 67 million computers received upgrades.
That is 258 installs per second.
An expat living in Costa Rica, expert in computers and Windows, related
in an interview that upgrading from an older version of the operating
system to Windows 10 is pretty much a breeze. He recommended making a
good backup before starting the upgrade process.
The system is faster, more efficient and easier to understand. It is
also designed from bottom up to spy on its users. Here are some
examples and instructions on how to turn off the prying eyes.
Wi-Fi Sense: This
system automatically connects a user to Wi-Fi hotspots much as
smartphones do. However, by using the system, one agrees to give
Microsoft one’s secret passwords. In doing so, the computer and its
location is no longer a secret but available to all Outlook, Skype, and
Facebook contacts on the system.
This can be turned off in the main settings menu, under manage Wi-Fi.
The only way to really block the system, is by putting “_optout” at the
end of a router’s public network name, the service set identifier.
Bandwidth Sharing for
Updates: Microsoft with Windows 10 will now use everyone’s
computer to share update information between other computers in its
worldwide network, much like how torrents and the bitcoin system works.
This could lead to increased internet charges to those on a metered
system because a computer is available on the network serving others,
not to mention, seeding other machines with information from one’s
private home computer.
Turn off “Updates from more than one place” in the advanced menu in the
update and security section of settings. While there, disable automatic
updates in this section, too, so Microsoft does not reset the computer
Microsoft wants to get to know everyone better and has a scary new
feature called just that, Getting to
This disturbing feature, designed to make the Windows 10 experience
better, sounds great. What it means is applications — not just
Microsoft, but other applications as well — can log typing history,
voice recordings and collect contact information and even handwriting
samples from writing notes.
Tell Microsoft to “Stop getting to know you” to take back a little
privacy in the privacy section of settings.
Poor big corporate
conglomerate. It has had some real hard times over the past many
years due to its failure with Vista and Windows 8. It
more money so Windows 10 now tags every user with a unique advertising
ID. This identification is available to all applications in the system
for data mining to achieve better targeted advertising.
Turn off the toggle switch in privacy settings
to prevent third-party
apps from accessing this data. IDs are not removed but reset. Turning
off this setting in Windows 10 does not turn it off in specific
applications like browsers.
App-Access to one’s
location, microphone and webcam: Yes,
applications on one’s machine can now turn on a microphone and a webcam
without explicit permission to do so. Besides being a blatant violation
of privacy, it can also run down a machine's battery and overall
Get rid of App-Access in the privacy settings, too, under the
locations, camera and microphones tabs. Turn them off by
There are other ways to tweak Windows 10 for better performance like
turning off background applications from starting with Windows. These
tips can be found by surfing the Internet. This operating system is in
its infancy, only four days out to the public.
However, it seem like
it will be a success for Microsoft. The reason for this is primarily
due to how the company launched it, having people reserve the free
upgrade and then prompting to install it without any disclosure as to
its privacy striping features.
disclose and preserve personal data, including your content, (such as
content of your emails, other private communications or files in
private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is
Read between the lines here. Microsoft says they want the right to
every piece of private information on a computer, and it is up to them
to safeguard it when they
feel it is necessary.
For anyone using Apple products and social networks like Facebook, they
are used to some of these privacy issues. Really, it appears Microsoft
has finally seen the light and believes striping people of their
privacy is a way to make more money. They are a little late on
Garland M. Baker, a
certified international property specialist, is a
45-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica. His firm’s team
provides multidisciplinary professional services to the country’s
international community. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in
conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica. Find the collection at http://crexpertise.info,
a free reprint is available at the end of each
article. Copyright 2004-2015, use without permission prohibited.