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

Both teams should be (and most likely are) aware of this.

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While I don’t disagree, I’ve known plenty of developers who are totally clueless when it comes to how users interact with their software. I guess this is part of the reason there are now UX experts.

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Of course, well-meaning busybodies (such as the people who would put in such a feature in the first place) would likely consider that to be a good thing - in fact I’m willing to bet that a large proportion of computer-illiterate (or at best barely computer savvy) parents are quite happy to receive these reports, and glad that they don’t have to go digging through a bunch of settings to try to find how to turn it on. Not that that makes it any better, but I can guarantee you that it’s not “enabled by default” by accident. A hell of a lot of thought goes into just about all of these decisions.

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This sounds like a terrific feature, honestly. You don’t think I want to know what my kids might be viewing? It’s inevitable that they’re going to view something that makes me uncomfortable, which is exactly the kind of stuff that we need to talk to them about.

And if you can easily turn off the notifications if you DON’T want them… what’s the problem here? Seriously?


I’d counter that the inverse is true: you can easily turn on the notifications if you do want them. I want the things I use to be private by default so that I can make the conscious, deliberate decision to share detailed personal information if it suits me.

I won’t begrudge your desire to use the feature. That’s between you and your family. However, I don’t want to use it and I’m very creeped out that the information was collected and uploaded to Microsoft’s servers without anyone here explicitly asking them to do that.


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.


Ummm ever since VISTA. If you have family safety installed and set up (which is the point of the product) also it was the easiest way to force a log off time for him and while not that I wanted to block porn but an 8 year old stumbling on say goatse is not always what you want to deal with. Now he has full access but not local admin rights. I am tempted to install it again simply for time restriction reasons.

So why the all panic now for something that has been there since 2007?

ETA And this is only workable if you link the machine to your microsoft account if you have one. Family Safety and parental controls had to already be installed and running and linked to an account already. You set this up on the machine when you gave it to the kid with win8 on it otherwise it would be doing no monitoring at all.

Yeah, see, using the internet is something that gives a child access to the whole wide world. That can be great and amazing, but it can be scary too. Kids have to be taught how to safely navigate technology. They need to know that it is a space where they may encounter situations that they don’t know how to handle and need to know that they can turn to their parents when that happens. You develop that through open communication and by using technology side by side with your kids. As they learn, you continue that by keeping an eye on them as they use technology, the same way you would keep an eye on them while they are playing, or out and about in the world.

When you teach your child to drive, you are right there by their side. Same should go with the internet. Once your child has their license you don’t just stop monitoring their driving! You keep tabs on where they’re going and whether they got their safely. You have them drive whenever you go places together so that you can continue to monitor their skills and give guidance. The same should go for the internet.

Maybe you don’t like this method of monitoring, that’s fine, but don’t be so silly as to send your newly licensed driver out into the world without a second thought. At least check in and have conversations about what they are using their technology for. Ask what sites they typically visit and check them out or have them show you. Be involved. If you are already doing this then awesome! Sadly, I think most parents aren’t.

I think the email option is good for those who are currently doing nothing because it at least makes parents aware of their kids usage. I think a more direct approach through conversation, showing interest in what your child is doing, and actively monitoring (having computers in a common room) are much better options. Of course, a certain amount of trust is granted with age and appropriate behavior, but you still need to do some monitoring even if it is just checking in.

Basically, this is not something to freak out about. It is an option that may help a lot of people and you can turn it off if it is not your thing.

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In all honesty, I don’t think removing it from the OS is going to stop those parents any way.


That’s what I meant by “relatively permissive”. As I’ve been shopping for “net nanny” type applications I have come across some that offer an intrusive level of filtering, including sex ed, “alternative lifestyles”, etc. I have no intention of installing one of those. I will choose one that will allow me to have a minimal level of filtering, just pornography and illegal activity.

If they were my own kids? I might bring them up from a young age to be independent (“free range parenting”) but seeing as they are under my care temporarily and I have an obligation to install such software (it is required for licensure) and directly monitor the child 24 hours a day, I would rather install a minimal level of filtering and allow access to a computer in my home than take a moral stand against filtering and just not have any kind of computer available.


Perhaps not, but do you really want to make their job easier?

Things like incognito mode and Tor exist for a reason. You should be able to trust that the things you own will not betray you to those who can do you harm.

If this feature can be turned on without the child knowing, then it is absolutely setting them up to be betrayed to an potential abuser.


Here’s the problem: your kids will likely be fine with this feature turned on.

Consider the ones that won’t be.


“We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your
content (such as the content of your emails, other private
communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith
belief that doing so is necessary to protect our customers or enforce
the terms governing the use of the services,” Microsoft said in its recently update new terms of services agreement.

From the Telegraph
and Yahoo news


was family safety installed on the PC when it was win8? was the account set up as a ‘monitored’ account even if all you did was have time limitations set up?
the only way they would collect that information is if family safety was set up already and you told it to monitor that pc and that account was marked to be monitored/childs account.

Well, they call themselves that, but a lot of their job appears to be ‘hiding all the fucking buttons’.


I don’t know about your local library, but mine does not provide a report of what books my kids have checked out. I have to ask sneaky questions like ‘hey what are you reading?’

You’re wrong hockey stick BTW. Last year a certain conservative politician was campaigning in our neighbourhood and stopped to play some road hockey with the kids. The hockey stick should have told me this.


Parental controls that report TO THE PARENT are one thing.

Parental controls that report TO MICROSOFT and then have Microsoft report to the parent are another.

Since you say that you’re in the process of being licensed as a foster home, what would the licensing board say if you told them that you were going to send some arbitrary person the schedules of the children under your care? My guess is that you would NOT be licensed as a foster home, unless you had a damn good reason to send that person the schedules (and maybe not even then.)

So what’s the damn good reason for the parental controls to be phoning home? How long is the data going to be stored? What are the safeguards used to keep that data secure? To whom does Microsoft have to report when or if that data becomes compromised? That information may be buried somewhere deep in the Windows 10 EULA; I have not installed it on my machine, nor do I plan to, so I have not read the license agreement.


I’m not sure I made myself clear. I meant filtering not logging. Logging every search, keystroke, etc is absolutely not appropriate. I would object to any system that would allow filtering or logging based on sexual orientation, information on abuse, sex ed, and similar “sensitive” but not illegal or pornographic topics. I can think of no reason to have a child be permitted to access pornography or instructions on how to buy and use drugs.

So, summary: I think relatively permissive filters are acceptable. (Without some kind of filter I wouldn’t be permitted to provide a computer, which is something I think any teen should have access to.) I think detailed, keystroke type logging is unacceptable.

Where I’m trying to figure out a balance is with something like an activity report, listing time spent on various domain level sites - so that I can make a judgement if there is excessive time spent on Facebook or WoW forums, when studying should be the order of the day. I would honestly appreciate feedback on those topics.

Steve’s point is also well taken - there is also a question of trusting the vendor of the software, if such a tool is phoning home to the vendor before passing the information on to me. Luckily we are Mac users so won’t encounter MS, but I will reject a tool that sends a log to a third party. Apple offers a way to set up an account for a child with filtering, which I tested, but that filtering seems to need to be configured site-by-site (at least, I was able to open a number of porn sites with it turned on). As far as I can tell the logs stay on the machine itself (it has helpfully logged the fact that I visited a series of porn sites).

edit: I looked up the actual item on the paperwork: “What is your plan for the use of electronics in your home? What specific strategies will you use to protect your child from viewing explicit material, as well as protect them from internet predators?”


Seriously? This stuff was in 8 and I don’t remember the fear/terror articles. Everyone focused on shitty UI.


And you have to you know link it to your actual microsoft cloud account thing as well. So yeah. If you do like I did, paid attention, use a local account only, etc, It wouldn’t track/monitor/log/etc anything.
ETA heck this was in Vista/7, and available for XP. I did use to use it till the win8 update broke it for 7 and that was more for enforcing time limits on usage web filter was set to the almost but not quite everything and you could very easily whitelist things that got blocked if you thought it was okay for the kid to see it.