I’ve been using Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system for three years, and, overall, I’m very happy with it. A year ago, the company introduced Cortana, its virtual personal assistant. One of the features of the program is that it can connect to your Facebook account in order to suggest things of interest to you. I was curious about this, but, testing enabling the feature, I was met with this dialog box from Facebook.
That’s a lot of personal information, and I wasn’t prepared to just hand it over without some very robust assurances of my privacy. However, the “Cortana and your privacy FAQ” only mentions Facebook in this single paragraph:
If Cortana is on, you can control whether Cortana uses information from your Facebook account for personalization. For more info, see the “Sign in or out of Facebook” section in Cortana’s settings. Note that if you turn Cortana off after connecting Cortana to Facebook, you’ll continue to receive Facebook personalization in other experiences on your phone. To disconnect Facebook after turning off Cortana, go to Settings > Applications > Store, tap Suggestions, tap and hold Facebook, and then tap Remove facebook suggestions to remove Facebook suggestions.
That doesn’t tell me anything about what’s going to happen to my data. So, I emailed Microsoft.
Hi. The settings for Cortana suggest that I might want to connect my Facebook account to it to improve its relevance. However, the button for doing so results in the access request shown in this screenshot,
- the application’s exact reasons for requiring each of those pieces of data
- how far that data will be distributed through Bing and connected systems
- what options I have for revoking Bing’s access to that data
- how long the data will persist in your systems following such a revocation.
Without this grade of information, I regret to say that I’m unwilling to allow your application access to my data within Facebook, as much as I’m curious as to what results it could produce. Would you please consider producing a guide document that explicitly sets out the information I listed above?
Two weeks later, I got back the following underwhelming response.