Microsoft TO-DO Privacy

I have to admit I really like the new Microsoft To-DO app for Windows and Android. You can create lists of to-do’s, it has a My Day function and lots of useful detail.desktop

Once I’d created my first set of serious to-do’s I suddenly realized how much sensitive data there was in my to-do’s. While I’m ok with Microsoft collecting and analyzing usage data, how many times I use the app, what platforms, where was I when I used them etc. I’m totally against them reading, copying or sharing the to-do’s with anyone that I have not explicitly authorized.

I checked a vast swathe of Microsoft web pages to see if I can find anything specific to To-Do, no luck. These included the following:

Microsoft Privacy Statement – November 2018.

My Microsoft Privacy Dashboard.

My Microsoft Account Privacy Settings.

Microsoft Office Trust Center

Reviewed the FAQ and other product pages via Microsoft Privacy Support

Visited the Trusted Cloud Privacy Center

I couldn’t find a definitive answer anywhere. Does Microsoft scan the data inside of TO-DO’s, or for that matter DOC files, XLS files shared and in the “cloud” in order to harvest trends, ad targeting etc.

For me this will be an absolute deal killer. I’ve submitted a question to the privacy team via this form, this will be interesting to follow-up on. For me, my TO-DO’s are much more sensitive, private than anything I ever posted on facebook. My support ticket number: 1463236572. Here is the text of my question.

Microsoft TO-DO is a new app for Windows and Android etc. I’ve searched the various privacy and trust dashboards and cannot find anywhere that allows me to be sure that the CONTENT of my TO-DO’s which could be highly sensitive, is not shared or read by Microsoft for any purpose except back-up and sharing among systems I choose.

For example, I may have a TO-DO that includes make bank payment to Jeff and includes his bank routing code and account number. How can I be sure you will never scan and retain or copy such data for purposes I have not explicitly authorised?

| Update 5th March 2019:  Microsoft were actually pretty good at replying, and pretty concise. Their reply came in less than 24-hours and said:

Hello,

Except as described in our Microsoft Privacy Statement, we won’t disclose your personal information to a third party without your consent. We do not use what you say in email, chat, video calls, or voicemail. Nor do we use your documents, photos, or other personal files. As of its longstanding commitment to privacy, Microsoft provides resources to help you protect your part online information. Please find additional guidance at the Privacy at Microsoft page.

Best Regards,

Microsoft Privacy

Which I read as they never process your actual data files, and sell the information contained in them. Which includes .doc, .xls, etc. So, that’s carry on with Microsoft To-Do.

Author: Mark Cathcart

Formerly an Executive Director of Systems Engineering and a Senior Distinguished Engineer at Dell. Prior to that, an IBM Distinguished Engineer working for the Systems Group in NY and Austin. I'm currently "retired until further notice".

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