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Torrent trackers bring down the ban hammer on Windows 10 users

Aug 23, 20155 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSecurity

A BitTorrent tracker banned Windows 10 users over privacy concerns, and other private torrent trackers may follow suit. Some Russian lawmakers and lawyers want the Windows 10 operating system banned.

Even before Microsoft’s updated Privacy Statement and Services Agreement kicked in on August 1, privacy advocates from the European Digital Rights group warned the new privacy policy was “bad news for privacy.” Then Windows 10 default settings proved to be skewed toward spying on users by default. The fact that users are opted in unless they take steps to opt out is so bad for privacy that people who do not normally bother to read Microsoft’s Services EULA (end-use license agreement) started doing so.

See also: Windows 10 still contacts Microsoft even when told not to

Some news sites warned that if you use Windows 10 then Microsoft’s EULA could allow the company to disable counterfeit games and illegal hardware. The portion (7b) that freaked folks out states:

We may automatically check your version of the software, which is necessary to provide the Services and download software updates or configuration changes, without charging you, to update, enhance and further develop the Services, including those that prevent you from accessing the Services, playing counterfeit games or using unauthorized hardware peripheral devices.

As that blew across the digital wires, Microsoft responded to “Windows 10 built-in piracy kill switch” accusations by claiming its EULA had always given it the power to remotely disable pirated games on PCs.

The Microsoft Services Agreement allows Microsoft to change or discontinue certain apps or content where we deem your security is at risk,” a Microsoft spokesperson told GamesBeat. Ah, less privacy for the sake of security. Microsoft added, “This section of the Microsoft Services Agreement is consistent with language in former Terms of Use agreements, which carried over with the introduction of the unified services agreement on August 1. Software that is pirated or botted places the safety and security of our customers at risk, including a higher risk of malware, fraud, public exposure of personal information, and poor performance or feature malfunction. We remain committed to protecting our customers from the risks of non-genuine software and protecting the intellectual property of developers of all types of content.”

Some torrent trackers ban Windows 10 users

Torrent Freak reported that some BitTorrent trackers banned Windows 10 over privacy concerns. Torrent tracker iTS banned Windows 10 users and now redirects those users to a video called “Windows 10 is a tool to spy on everything you do.” Admins for iTS also issued the following statement:

Many of you might have heard or read about the terrible privacy policy of Windows 10 recently. Unfortunately Microsoft decided to revoke any kind of data protection and submit whatever they can gather to not only themselves but also others. One of those is one of the largest anti-piracy company called MarkMonitor.

Amongst other things Windows 10 sends the contents of your local disks directly to one of their servers. Obviously this goes way too far and is a serious threat to sites like ours, which is why we had to take measures. Since last Thursday Windows 10 is officially banned from iTS. Members using it get redirected to a video that eggsplains [sic] the dangers quite in detail hoping to enlighten as many people as possible.

Perhaps at some point special versions of Windows 10 will surface that would successfully wipe all those outrageous privacy violations but until then windows 10 is not welcome here in the interest of this site and all iTS members.

Other small private torrent trackers will likely follow suit, according to Torrent Freak. BB (BaconBits?) staffers told its users, “We have also found [Windows 10] will be gathering information on users’ P2P use to be shared with anti-piracy group. What’s particularly nasty is that apparently it sends the results of local (!!) searches to a well-known anti-piracy company directly so as soon as you have one known P2P or scene release on your local disk … BAM!”

Staff from the torrent tracker FSC (Fun Sharing Community) warned, “As we all know, Microsoft recently released Windows 10. You as a member should know, that we as a site are thinking about banning the OS from FSC. That would mean you cannot use the site with the OS installed.”

Russian lawmakers, lawyers want to ban Windows 10 OS

In a slightly different twist, instead of banning individual Windows 10 users, some Russian lawmakers and lawyers want to ban the Windows 10 OS.

Moscow attorneys with the Bubnov and Partners legal firm filed “a complaint with the Prosecutor General’s Office over the privacy and data collection settings of the Windows 10 computer operating system.” The Russian lawyers allege that Windows 10 breaches Russia’s privacy laws as the OS “illicitly collects users’ browser history, passwords, location, elements of electronic messages, calendar records and even voice recording.”

A week earlier, as reported by The Moscow Times, Russia’s State Duma Deputy Vadim Solovyov claimed Windows 10 was spying on users and called for an investigation. The Russian Association for Electronic Communications said Windows 10 has “flexible settings and therefore does not breach Russian law.”

ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.