Microsoft Recall – A Super Handy Tool or a Big Risk to Your Privacy?

Microsoft is once again playing Big Brother, and the latest news might send shivers down your spine! Do you remember that creepy episode of Black Mirror where people had a chip behind their ear that recorded everything? Well, that’s becoming a reality, except it’s on our computers!

During Monday’s Build conference, Microsoft revealed a new AI-powered feature called “Recall” that will allow Windows 11 users to search and retrieve their past activities on their PC. Essentially, Recall will record everything you do: the applications you use, your communications in meetings, your web searches, everything! Supposedly, this is to help you easily find something you did three months ago. But at first glance, it seems pretty sketchy for privacy…

Recall takes screenshots of your screen every few seconds, encrypts them, and stores them on your hard drive. You can then retrieve them through a search or a timeline. It will even scan your online meetings to transcribe and translate them using an AI-powered feature. Convenient? Maybe. Creepy? Definitely!

Imagine someone accessing your Windows session and rummaging through your Recall history. They could see EVERYTHING you do, even the not-so-innocent stuff ^^… Of course, Microsoft promises that the data stays local (for now?) and is encrypted, and fortunately, there will be options to pause or delete content.

More specifically, Microsoft states that the screenshots are only linked to a specific user profile and are not shared with other users or used by Microsoft for targeted ads (for now?). Recall won’t capture screenshots of InPrivate browsing sessions in Microsoft Edge or DRM-protected content but won’t hide sensitive information like passwords.

If you still want to use this feature, you’ll need to buy a “Copilot+ PC,” the only ones capable of running this thing. You’ll also need disk space, at least 256 GB, with 50 GB reserved for Recall.

But wait, there’s more! Macs are getting in on the action too with Recall Memory! It’s not an official Apple tool, but as its name subtly indicates, it also records what you do to “remember” it. It captures the active screen every second but only stores significant changes, likely to avoid blowing up the hard drive.

And like with Microsoft, the developers of this tool swear that the data stays on your Mac, encrypted and never uploaded. You control which applications are captured and how much data is saved. Additionally, private browsing sessions in Safari and Chrome are automatically ignored.

In short, these new features are a bit like the Windows 10 Timeline but a thousand times more intrusive. There are bookmarking, search, and control systems for what’s captured. So yes, there are safeguards, promises of privacy, encryption, and data staying local, but as I said at the beginning, I can’t help but think of that Black Mirror episode (S01E03) where the guy goes paranoid and loses it because he can see his wife’s memories. For reference, this episode shows a society where technology allows recording everything an individual sees and hears, and these memories become sources of paranoia.

We’re not there yet, but it’s starting to look more and more like it…

I’m not saying it can’t be useful to find something you saw a long time ago or for people with memory gaps, but I find this pretty risky… Plus, the space it takes up on the hard drive… lol.

Mohamed SAKHRI
Mohamed SAKHRI

I'm the creator and editor-in-chief of Tech To Geek. Through this little blog, I share with you my passion for technology. I specialize in various operating systems such as Windows, Linux, macOS, and Android, focusing on providing practical and valuable guides.

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