Stop Microsoft from Spying Your Search Data

Windows 10 has always wreaked of privacy intrusion. From the moment a Windows 10 computer is first christened users are peppered with questions about sharing data, actions, activities, and even biometrics with Microsoft. Even with all of these questions answered —no— there's no guarantee that Microsoft isn't somehow still pilfering personal data from a computer.

Last week Microsoft got caught with its hand in the digital cookie jar when users of Windows 10 starting experiencing problems searching for files on their computers. Users searching for something on their local computer (not on the Internet) found that Windows Search was broken. Microsoft later admitted that this problem resulted from an issue they were having with one of their Cloud servers.

This breakdown revealed a startling invasion of privacy on the part of Microsoft. It clearly indicated that even if a user is only searching for a local file, that search data is being passed along to Microsoft's servers.

Anyone who values their privacy should be concerned about this discovery. While it's probably impossible to completely disable all information shared between a Windows 10 computer and Microsoft, there is a specific set of steps users can follow to cripple some behind-the-scenes sharing as pertains this exposed flaw. Those steps are detailed below (abstract from this Reddit post):

  • Run Regedit.exe
  • Browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Search
  • Look for "BingSearchEnabled", if you don't see it you will need to create it, just right click in a blank area and pick New DWORD 32 bit. Type in BingSearchEnabled
  • Double click on BingSearchEnabled and set it to 0 (that's a zero) and press OK.
  • Do the same steps for CortanaConsent, if you don't see it, create a DWORD 32 bit, again set it to 0.
  • Reboot.

Users choosing to follow these steps should do so with caution. Adjusting a computer's registry settings improperly can create problems.

If you're unsure how to adjust your registry settings and would like assistance, please contact Help-O-Matic directly at (717) 283-2323.