Microsoft “Recall” Feature Is A Privacy Nightmare

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The one of its kind Microsoft Recall did not gain the user attraction as it intended to.

Story Highlights
  • Recall is Microsoft’s latest release in its Windows 11 Copilot+ PCs. The tool captures your current screen every few seconds and saves it on the local device.
  • You can refer back to the screenshots and use the AI Finder to scan the saved images and find whatever you want.
  • Experts raised privacy concerns about the tool, stating that it endangers users’ privacy by viewing sensitive information on the screen.

Microsoft Recall was released for Windows 11 Copilot+ PCs. However, the company delayed the release of its new feature to address the privacy doubts surrounding its integration.

Microsoft’s Recall Feature 

Microsoft announced the release of a new Windows 11 “Recall” feature for the latest Copilot+  PCs. Powered by AI, the Recall tool takes automatic screenshots of the active content on your screen, helping you recall the information later. It would snapshot the screen every few seconds, storing anything visible on your screen at that moment locally on your device. 

YouTube video

It remembers what you have seen on the PC on different apps and websites, so it can quickly fetch the results when needed. It’s like browsing through a visual timeline of everything you have previously seen on your PC, sort of like a “photographic memory,” as per Microsoft.

You can browse the saved snapshots of websites, documents, images, and text or use AI to find what you need from the already viewed content instantly.

Why The Backlash?

The feature did not sit well with the users as Microsoft intended. Concerns quickly arose about the users’ privacy invasion through the Recall tool. Users took it to X to express their doubts about this tool.

The company stated that “Recall does not perform content moderation. It will not hide information such as passwords or financial account numbers. That data may be in snapshots that are stored on your device….”

This means that Recall threatens user freedom and personal privacy. Sensitive data like credit card details, credentials, and passwords can be breached. When enabled, Recall may also capture the facial identities and names of you and your friends/colleagues during a video call on your PC.

In the case of PC hacks, hackers could access all the screenshots stored locally on your PC, tracking all your activity over the past months and even critical information. They can also use it to spy on the user and monitor their PC activity.

What Do Security Experts Say?

Security and privacy experts believe it constantly monitors on-screen activity, including text, images, and any information on the screen. 

Dr. Kris Shishak, an AI privacy adviser, told BBC that “the mere fact that screenshots will be taken during use of the device could have a chilling effect on people.” However, Microsoft affirmed that users will be in control of the Recall feature, and they can disallow it from viewing specific websites and apps. 

Privacy Concerns Around The Recall Tool Delayed Its Release
Privacy Concerns Around The Recall Tool Delayed Its Release (Image By SecurityLab)

“The potential of sensitive information being stored without proper security protocols, puts your cybersecurity and even your identity risk,โ€ said the vice president of Keeper Security. In addition, the co-founder of DoControl also called it “a goldmine for cybercriminals,” according to SC Media.

Following the outrage, Microsoft initially decided to turn off the Recall feature by default in its newest Copilot+ PCs. Later, they announced that they were delaying the release of this new AI tool. Currently, Recall is limited to preview in the Windows Insiders Program. 

Consequently, the new Copilot+ PCs were shipped without the integrated Recall tool, as the company is currently working to improve privacy through stronger encryption and passwords.

My Take

The Recall tool needs major security enhancements before Microsoft can launch it globally on their Copilot+ PCs. If Microsoft effectively tackles the security issue, the feature can be a game-changer in the world of AI PCs.

Search Anything From The Previous Days With Recall
Search Anything From The Previous Days With Recall (Image By Microsoft Support)

Being one of its kind, Recall will reshape how we retrieve information on our PCs. Instead of scrolling through browser history, we can enter the item into the Recall tool and let AI handle it. However, Microsoft must be vigilant about how this AI feature monitors and manages our data.

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