Microsoft defends Windows 11 Recall, but not so convincingly

windows 11 recall

The Windows 11 Recall feature has generated a lot of discussion around data privacy since its announcement, but Microsoft defends it. However, the answer offered by a company representative probably will not leave you free of doubt.

Just in case you don’t know, Recall is one of the new Windows AI features. Basically, it takes snapshots of everything you do on your Copilot+ PC. Thanks to this, you can ask your PC to search for or remind you of specific things. For instance, you can ask questions like: “Where did I see some brown shoes this week?” That said, the fact that your PC graphically records your activity immediately raised alarm bells.

Microsoft tries to defend Recall by evading some questions

Jaime Teevan, chief scientist and technical fellow at Microsoft Research, answered some questions related to Recall to Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the Stanford Digital Economy Laboratory. Brynjolfsson tried to get a concrete answer regarding the potential risks involved in using the feature. On the other hand, Teevan offered a somewhat ambiguous one.

More specifically, Brynjolfsson asked about “the advantages and disadvantages of using all that data and some of the risks that this creates, as well as some of the opportunities.” Given this, Teevan’s response seems a bit evasive. She said: “Yeah, and so it’s a great question, Erik. This has come up throughout the morning as well – the importance of data. And this AI revolution that we’re in right now is really changing the way we understand data.”

Teevan continued the statement, moving to the consumer focus. Regarding this, she said that “as individuals too, we have important data, the data that we interact with all the time, and there’s an opportunity to start thinking about how to do that and to start thinking about what it means to be able to capture and use that. But of course we are rethinking what data means and how we use it, how we value it, how it gets used.”

So, it seems that Teevan avoided the initial focus of the question. This doesn’t help users feel more confident about using Recall. The way in which Microsoft defends it does not seem to be the best. In fact, it’s interesting that her response was evasive considering she was much more direct with another question.

Microsoft emphasizes that Recall stores and processes everything locally

This time, Brynjolfsson addressed the issue of where the snapshots taken by the feature are saved. Microsoft had stated that everything would be processed locally, with nothing uploaded to the cloud. In response to this question, Teevan stated: “Yeah, yeah, so this is a foundational thing that we as a company care a lot about is actually the protection of data. So Recall is a feature which captures information. It’s a local Windows functionality, nothing goes into the cloud, everything’s stored locally.”

So, Teevan seems to be completely confident about local data processing. However, some might find it worrying that the answer to the first question was evasive. Perhaps the company is still studying all the potential risks when using Recall before giving a public response about it. Anyway, the feature rollout is not far away. It is expected to begin on June 18.

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