Microsoft Makes Windows 11's 'Recall' Feature Opt-In After Backlash Over Privacy Concerns: 'We Have Heard A Clear Signal…'

In the face of mounting criticism from security and privacy experts, Microsoft Corp. MSFT has decided to modify its upcoming Recall feature in Windows 11, keeping it disabled by default.

What Happened: Microsoft’s Recall feature, intended to assist PC users in retrieving previously viewed information, has been under the microscope for potential security vulnerabilities. Previously, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk likened the feature to a “Black Mirror episode,” saying he is going to turn it off.

Addressing these concerns, in a blog post on Friday, Microsoft announced that the Recall feature will now be opt-in and will necessitate users to authenticate using biometric data, such as fingerprint or facial recognition.

The tech behemoth also revealed plans to encrypt the database of screenshots that fuel the Recall feature.

See Also: Edward Snowden Echoes Richard Stallman’s Warnings On Proprietary Software After User Says ‘Adode Can Not Be Trusted’

“Even before making Recall available to customers, we have heard a clear signal that we can make it easier for people to choose to enable Recall on their Copilot+ PC and improve privacy and security safeguards,” the company stated in the blog post.

Adding, “With that in mind we are announcing updates that will go into effect before Recall (preview) ships to customers on June 18.”

The Recall feature, which does not transmit data to the cloud, is exclusive to the new Copilot+ PCs, slated to begin shipping later this month. Copilot+ PC owners will have the option to choose which apps or websites are exempt from the screenshots.

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Why It Matters: This decision comes in the wake of widespread criticism from security experts and early software testers. Earlier, Meredith Whittaker, President of Signal, referred to the feature as “a serious hijacking of trust” and “a dangerous honeypot for hackers” at the Axios’ AI+ Summit on Wednesday.

The Recall feature, also known as AI Explorer, was unveiled by Microsoft during the Build Developer Conference. It was designed to record and categorize user activities, allowing for easy retrieval. The feature tracks user activities across apps, live meetings, and web browsing, among others.

In an interview previously, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella touted the feature. When asked about people’s concerns regarding this feature, he said, “You have to put two things together. This is my computer, this is my Recall, and it's all being done locally. So that's the promise.”

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Disclaimer: This content was partially produced with the help of Benzinga Neuro and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

Image: Microsoft

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