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Losing YOUR privacy one device at a time: Media Players ...

After upgrading my Window’s 7 installation to the recommended Service Pack 1, a message appeared on my screen when I attempted to access a video.
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I could hardly believe what I was seeing … “Usage data will be sent to Microsoft if you use recommended settings, but the information will not be used to identify or contact you.”
Yeah right. We all know that Microsoft fingerprints our machine and software and that information is contained in the documents and files that we produce with some common Microsoft products.
What will Microsoft do with this information? Research for product improvement? If so, why would they claim that usage data will be sent to Microsoft. Other than verifying that our software is licensed, what business to they have using our machine and our communications facilities to send data which may be of some commercial benefit to their enterprise?
I could understand if the data was used for product improvement, but with video or audio products, the media player either works or it doesn’t. And unless they are tracking iTunes purchases to target those who might want to purchase goods and services at a Microsoft store, of what commercial use is the data.
Considering Microsoft’s close relationship with our government, including contacts within the NSA, CIA, and FBI is this a move to scan for materials related to terrorism or commercial copyright violations? Can this material be obtained by an administrative summons or subpoena without a right to challenge the validity of such procedure?
Whose data is it?
I assume that you own your computer hardware and pay for any communications link used to connect you to the Internet. So what is their claim to your data? That they sold you a license to use their product?
Does it really contact Microsoft?
Running a packet sniffer and invoking Windows Media Player produced these results …
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But to be fair, so did Real Player …
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Bottom line …
Here is another erosion of our right to privacy – all hidden in an information screen and conveyed to unknown parties for unknown purposes.
All I want for my software to do is fulfill the purpose which caused me to purchase that particular product. I have no complaint if it wants to check for periodic updates (provided it tells me about them and offers me the choice to say no) or validate its license. As to the collection of user data – whether for enhancing performance, performing additional research or attempting to track my usage for purposes of their own – NO! In fact hell no!
Even attempting to use the Windows firewall did not block Microsoft’s communications. Nor did it block Real Player’s attempt to communicate. Time to actually block them using another firewalling product that was turned off during the test.
Be smart, be safe and try to keep spyware from revealing your secrets.
-- steve

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