Microsoft’s AI system Recall can take screenshots

The UK’s data protection authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), is reportedly making inquiries into a new screenshot feature available from Microsoft.

This feature, known as Recall, is a component of the Copilot+ suite and aims to take encrypted snapshots of a user’s laptop screen at intervals, storing them on the device. The ICO is examining the feature to determine the privacy protections in place.

Recall is designed to enable users to search their computer usage history using natural language, effectively creating a type of photographic memory of their activity. Concerns have been voiced about the feature’s potential to become a ‘privacy nightmare’ due to its ability to capture sensitive information. Microsoft has clarified that Recall is a voluntary feature, giving users the choice over the snapshots it collects. The data is kept on the local device and is inaccessible to Microsoft or others without access to the device.

The ICO’s investigation aims to ensure that companies thoroughly evaluate and address any risks to individual rights and freedoms prior to launching new technologies. Microsoft has reiterated its dedication to privacy and security, noting that these principles were integral to the development of Recall. The company has also indicated that users can specify the snapshots collected by Recall and that Microsoft Edge’s private browsing mode is not included.

Awareness of software features and privacy settings is crucial for users, particularly regarding personal data handling. The ICO’s inquiries represent a move towards addressing privacy concerns and safeguarding user data.

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