Microsoft promises increased transparency and control over data it collects

Microsoft this week unveiled a trio of steps it is taking to increase both transparency and control over the data it collects. In an April 30 blog post, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Julie Brill said that the company will now categorize the data it collects across all of its major products, while also bolstering its documentation to explain why it collects specific types of data (via OnMSFT).

In terms of categorization, Microsoft says it will now classify data it collects from devices as "required" or "optional." The required designation will be given to data Microsoft requires for features to work properly across its services. From Microsoft:

Required data includes things like the terms of a search query so we can return relevant search results, the IP address, type and version of your device so that we can provide connectivity to our cloud services and security patches that keep your experience safe and secure, and diagnostic data so that we can detect significant feature failures.

The optional category, meanwhile, will be used for data that isn't essential to the core experience of a service. Data collection included in the optional category can be disabled as customers see fit, depending on how they use a service.

In addition to categorization, Microsoft says it will keep its customer and enterprise sites updated with documentation that describes the data it collects in each category and why.

Finally, the company has introduced a new report that it will publish twice a year, highlighting any new required data collection and types of data it no longer collects. Each report, the company says, will also include explanations of the changes it has made.

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