An early development release of the Edge web browser reportedly has a toggle that will allow it to share your browsing data with other Windows 10 services.
While this could very well just be laying the groundwork for extending the sync service that shares browser data across devices, in the absence of a detailed explanation it does seem to have all the makings of a privacy intruding feature.
The setting labelled Share browsing data with other Windows features is accessible from under the Settings > Profiles in the Edge browser in the Canary stream.
We’re looking at how our readers use VPN for a forthcoming in-depth report. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the survey below. It won’t take more than 60 seconds of your time.
“When turned on, Microsoft Edge will connect local browsing data from this profile with the rest of Windows. Turning this feature on will help you find information from your history, favorites, top sites, and recent tabs more easily using features such as the Windows Search box,” reads the description of the new setting.
At first glance, the setting does seem to be a convenience feature that will allow users to return to their favourite websites, directly from the desktop. However, Windows Search box is only used as an example of the services that will have access to your Edge browser data.
Other Windows 10 features such as Cortana involve ferrying information to Microsoft servers, which could rile up privacy advocates no end. Similarly, it isn’t clear if the feature allows Microsoft to display targeted advertisements directly on the desktop of the users, which could be annoying and embarrassing in the least, to outright dangerous if exploited by unscrupulous advertisers to deliver potentially unwanted programs (PUPs).
From the screenshots it isn’t clear whether the setting will be enabled by default or not. The absence of a data retention policy and how it will work across multiple devices raises further concerns.