Microsoft broke Euro privacy rules by carrying out the “large scale and covert” gathering of private data through its Office apps, according to a report commissioned by the Dutch government.
It was found that Microsoft was collecting telemetry and other content from its Office applications, including email titles and sentences where translation or spellchecker was used, and secretly storing the data on systems in the United States.
Those actions break Europe’s new GDPR privacy safeguards, it is claimed, and may put Microsoft on the hook for potentially tens of millions of dollars in fines. The Dutch authorities are working with the corporation to fix the situation, and are using the threat of a fine as a stick to make it happen.
The investigation was jumpstarted by the fact that Microsoft doesn’t publicly reveal what information it gathers on users and doesn’t provide an option for turning off diagnostic and telemetry data sent by its Office software to the company as a way of monitoring how well it is functioning and identifying any software issues.