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Microsoft needs to make Windows 11's Recall feature opt-in

As it stands right now, the new Recall AI feature of Windows 11 will be enabled by default when it launches officially later this year. While limited to PCs that sport the Copilot+ PCs label, it will capture the screen of those PCs in five second intervals from the get-go.

The AI will capture almost everything on the screen by default. The only exception is activity in private browsing sessions of several popular browsers. Users may block access to certain apps, but this needs to be done manually.

The captures are stored locally only according to Microsoft. Furthermore, they are protected when the user is not logged in. However, when the user is logged in, the data is accessible by system and administrator accounts.

This makes Recall data the most lucrative target on Windows systems. Here is why:

It captures every activity, except for private browsing activity by default. This may include:

  • Financial documents, e.g., assets listed on a bank's website.
  • All emails in dedicated email programs, apps or regular browsing sessions.
  • All visited websites, except for those in private browsing modes.
  • Anything done in Tor Browser.
  • All activity on the computer, e.g., watched videos, opened documents, games played, webcam chats, messages, including self-destroying ones, emails, contacts, and more.
  • Accounts on the Web and elsewhere.
  • VPN activity.
  • P2P activity.

The information is highly lucrative for malicious actors. It is also lucrative for others, including law enforcement, customs, foreign agents, employers, or even friends and family.

What Microsoft reveals about Recall during Setup

Windows 11 Recall Setup

Currently, Windows 11 informs the user that Recall is enabled on the device. This happens during the out-of-box experience. The page does not include an option to disable Recall.

There is a checkbox to open the settings after setup completes, but it needs to be checked specifically. Many users will likely ignore it as they want to complete setup and start using the computer.

In any event, those who check the box are taken to Settings where they may configure Recall. This includes an option to turn off Recall completely.

While there is a chance that Microsoft will change the experience, for instance by adding an opt-out option during setup, nothing has been confirmed at this point. Even then, it is likely that many users will keep the feature turned on.

Recall needs to be opt-int

Windows users need to be aware of Recall, what it does, and the consequences of running it on the system. While it may be useful to some, it is such an invasive feature that it should be opt-in.

Malware will certainly target Recall data. This data reveals the entire activity of a user of the past three months on the device by default. It allows for intimate views into a user's life.

With that said, it seems unlikely that Microsoft is going to make the one major AI feature that it showcased opt-in. Lack of use would certainly turn it into a feature that is dead on arrival.

What about you? Would you use a feature like Recall on your devices?

Thank you for being a ComTek4u TechTips reader. The post Microsoft needs to make Windows 11's Recall feature opt-in appears on ComTek4u TechTips. (via Ghacks)