Microsoft moves to resolve privacy concerns over its Recall feature

The tool will be opt-in, so Copilot+ PCs won’t screenshot your activity without permission.


Microsoft has attempted to soothe privacy concerns regarding Recall, an upcoming Windows feature that’s said to help users resurface just about anything they’ve previously done or looked at on a Copilot+ PC. That naturally involves keeping tabs on how you use your computer in one way or another, which has raised privacy concerns over data storage and access. In an attempt to resolve those, Microsoft is making changes before it starts rolling out Recall later this month.

Recall will be opt-in, meaning that the feature won’t take snapshots (i.e. screenshots) of what you’re doing every few seconds or log your activity without your explicit permission. Microsoft will ask whether you want to enable Recall when you set up a Copilot+ PC, which is a positive move.

In addition, those who want to use Recall will need to use a Windows Hello authentication method such as facial recognition or a fingerprint scan. Authentication will be required before Recall allows a user to scroll through or search the activity timeline. But this measure won't necessarily make Recall super secure — all it takes is for someone to know your PIN and they can access it.

On top of that, Microsoft is adding more protections to the Recall snapshots. It will employ “just in time” decryption protected by Windows Hello Enhanced Sign-in Security. Snapshots will only be decrypted and available after user authentication. The search index database is encrypted too.

Microsoft says snapshots will remain on-device (locked to a user account) and won’t be used to train AI models. You can block Recall from snapshotting specific apps, and pause or delete snapshots. The AI processing that powers Recall takes place on-device too.

Recall was designed to help users find something they've done on their Copilot+ PC based on whatever they can remember. So if they remember a shirt they looked at a few weeks earlier and now think they might want to buy, they can describe the item. Recall might do a better job of finding the shirt than you can by scrolling through your the web browser history.

Recall will be able to unearth details from chats, productivity apps, emails and so on. Microsoft has described it as effectively a photographic memory for your PC. A preview of Recall will be available on Copilot+ PCs, which will start shipping on June 18.