Microsoft Surface Earbuds
Review date: Nov. 8, 2021
Microsoft really wants you to pair these funny looking earbuds with their Surface computers and tablets. They offer voice dictation for your Word docs and a feature to play your emails in the Outlook mobile app. These earbuds also connect to other things like your phone and non-Surface computer via Bluetooth. And of course, they do earbud things like play music and take calls. Maybe they're not that cool, but hey, you can play your Outlook emails right to your brain with them!
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Microsoft has had some bumps when it comes to security recently, most notably a major hack that left their Microsoft Exchange email service vulnerable and exploited. That hack didn’t affect something like the privacy of their Surface Headphones directly, but coupled with incidents like in December, 2019 when 250 million internal customer service and support logs were exposed online, and Microsoft’s security feels a little uncertain. Microsoft did pay 341 researchers millions of dollars in a year for reporting security vulnerabilities, so their bug bounty project is working. That is good.
Microsoft will collect some personal information on you if you choose to use the Surface Audio app to do things like customize the equalizer settings of your headphones. The app isn’t required to use the headphones, although most users will probably want the features it offers. Microsoft says they will use your data to target you with ads on Microsoft web properties. Microsoft also says they might share your data with partners like Verizon and Facebook to collect data about your online activity for advertising purposes, and to place their own ads. Finally, Microsoft says they can combine data with third parties, such as data brokers.
All in all, Microsoft seems to have some issues when it comes to security these days and we’re not too sure about all the ways they share your data either. Fortunately, these headphones don’t collect a ton of data so the worst thing that could probably happen is you’ll look kinda dorky as you dictate your Outlook emails.
Tips to protect yourself
- Consider using your headphones without connecting it to an app. This way, you may decrease amount of data collected
- Check Microsoft Surface settings for privacy
Can it snoop on me?
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Name, email, phone number, address
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
Microsoft suffered a major hack that left their Microsoft Exchange email service vulnerable and exploited. That hack didn’t affect the privacy of their Surface Headphones. In December, 2019, 250 million Microsoft internal customer service and support logs were exposed online.
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Very long and complicated privacy statement
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