First reported as a rumour by Android Central yesterday (since updated) and confirmed by the company itself overnight, popular Android software keyboard SwiftKey (also available for iOS) has been acquired by Microsoft. As of this morning, the app has been uninstalled from all the Android devices I own. Why?
Because Microsoft spies on its users, that’s why.
But doesn’t every software or services company track its users? Isn’t that the deal we’ve have made, giving up our online habits in return for cool, free stuff? Perhaps, but I submit that Microsoft respects your personal data significantly less than other companies. I’ll show you the evidence I’ve found and let you decide for yourself.
Exhibit A: Your Windows Desktop Computer is Spying on You
A quick search will yield lots of results about the privacy concerns in Windows 10; I chose a post from ghacks, for this telling quote:
Telemetry data is collected by Microsoft. This includes installed software plus configuration, network and connection data. While some of it can be turned off in the Settings, not all of it can.
According to this same site (and many others) similar data mining tools have introduced into Windows 7 and Windows 8.
Exhibit B: Microsoft Takes Down Cryptome
Crytome.org is one of the Internet’s oldest whistleblower sites. In February 2010 the site went dark thanks to a DMCA takedown request from Microsoft, because it published The Microsoft Spy Guide—a detailed record of the user data that Microsoft collects, keeps and can disclose to third parties:
Microsoft keeps user information related to its online services. The data ranges from past e-mails to credit card numbers. The information is kept for a designated period of time, sometimes forever.
The [specific] sites referenced are Hotmail, Microsoft Office Live, MSN, MSN Groups, Windows Live, Windows Live ID, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Spaces and Xbox Live […]
If you were wondering, Microsoft quickly realized how bad this made them look and withdrew their takedown request a few days later.
Exhibit C: Microsoft Colludes with the NSA
I’ve saved the most damning evidence for last. In the first wave of Snowden leaks during the summer of 2013 the extent of Microsoft’s cozy relationship with U.S. spy agencies was made clear:
Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users’ communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company’s own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian.
Hotmail, Outlook.com and Skype video calls were all subject to spying, and for all we know continue to be compromised to this day. The gritty details, parsed through by none other than Glenn Greenwald, are very much worth reading through.
So, back to SwiftKey… Imagine Microsoft and their cronies having access to even more of your sensitive personal data on the device that many of us use much more often than a personal computer. No thanks, I’m out.