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UK watchdog probes new Microsoft AI feature ‘taking screenshots automatically’

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The United Kingdom information commissioner’s office (ICO) says it is making enquiries with Microsoft over a new feature that can take screenshots of laptops every few seconds.

Microsoft had announced that Recall, which will store encrypted snapshots locally on computers, will be limited to its forthcoming Copilot+ personal computers (PCs).

According to its website, Microsoft said Recall is an “optional experience” and it is dedicated to privacy and security, adding that users “can limit which snapshots Recall collects”.

In a report on Wednesday, BBC said the UK data watchdog is in talks with Microsoft for further information on the safety of the product, which privacy campaigners have dubbed a potential “privacy nightmare”.

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An ICO spokesperson said firms must “rigorously assess and mitigate risks to people’s rights and freedoms” before introducing any new products to the market.

“We are making enquiries with Microsoft to understand the safeguards in place to protect user privacy,” the spokesperson said.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RECALL

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According to Microsoft, Recall data is only stored “locally and not accessed by Microsoft or anyone who does not have device access”.

The multinational corporation said a would-be hacker would need to obtain physical access devices, unlock them and sign in before they can access saved screenshots.

According to the company, Recall has the ability to search through all users’ historical activity including files, images, emails, and browsing history.

Microsoft said it “built privacy into Recall’s design” from the beginning, and users will have control and can limit what is captured.

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“Recall also does not take snapshots of certain kinds of content, including InPrivate web browsing sessions in Microsoft Edge. It treats material protected with digital rights management (DRM) similarly; like other Windows apps such as the Snipping Tool, Recall will not store DRM content,” the company said.

Microsoft said Recall will not censor or remove information from screenshots which contain passwords or financial account information.

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