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

Yeah, a simple google image search turns up screen shots where Windows states that this monitoring is turned on and you can turn it off.

Now, this may be for setting up new accounts in Win10. Perhaps upgrading certain accounts from a previous version of windows may not warn you that this is happening.

In terms of whether people may want monitoring or not, I think some of that comes down to whether you think MS is doing something nefarious with this data.

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Developers know very well that people do not read things that have an ‘OK’ button attached. Not taking that into account is at best negligent, and at worst malicious (see also: “dark patterns”). For all intents and purposes, it can be considered “enabled by default”.


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?


I am sure it was the UX team that made the decision, not the developers. :slight_smile:


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.