Technology, Smartphones, Games

Microsoft's New AI Feature 'Recall' Under Fire for Privacy Concerns

Microsoft's new AI feature, Recall, is drawing significant criticism from PC users who find it unsettling. But it's not just users who are concerned. The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has launched an investigation into Recall as well.

The ICO is an independent public authority in the UK that reports to Parliament. Its main job is to promote and uphold data privacy rights for individuals. In a statement published on Wednesday on its website, the ICO emphasized that organizations must be transparent about how they use personal data. They also stressed that companies should only process personal data when absolutely necessary and should rigorously assess and mitigate any risks to people's rights and freedoms before launching new products.

The ICO's statement further mentioned that they are making inquiries with Microsoft to understand the safeguards in place to protect user privacy.

So, what exactly is Recall, and why is it causing such a stir?

Recall is based on the familiar concept of web browser history, which shows users the websites they've visited by date and time. This feature is available in all popular web browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Microsoft has taken this idea and expanded it into a much broader concept. Recall keeps a history of all activity on a user's entire computer, powered by AI.

Here's how it works:

Recall continuously takes screenshots of whatever is happening on the user's PC in the background. The AI then scans the text and visuals in each screenshot, creating a searchable index of the user's activity. If a user wants to find something they did on their computer in the past, Recall can pull it up from this searchable archive.

Microsoft has assured that these screenshots will be stored locally on the user's computer. However, they've also revealed that sensitive data, like passwords, addresses, and health information, will not be removed from the screenshots. This means that anyone who has access to these files on the device could see this sensitive information. Cybersecurity experts are worried about the potential for hackers to exploit this data. Additionally, because Recall operates continuously in the background, users might not be aware of exactly what data is being stored.

The introduction of Recall has led to strong reactions from users and security professionals alike. The concerns about privacy and data security have caught the attention of government officials, prompting inquiries and investigations. It remains to be seen how Microsoft's Recall will evolve in response to this feedback and scrutiny.