31

On several occasions, Microsoft had misled their users to forcefully install updates or unwanted programs (like Windows 10 on Windows 7 here, here, here, and here), it also has forcefully installed the new Edge chromium web browser on W10 computers, and now is forcefully installing office webapps.

Is this legal?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Pat W. Oct 20 at 18:36
74

Unauthorized access to a computer is a crime in most parts of the world

However, Microsoft's access is not unauthorized (my emphasis):

  1. Updates. The softwareperiodically [sic] checks for system and app updates, and downloads and installs them for you. You may obtain updates only from Microsoft or authorized sources, and Microsoft may need to update your system to provide you with those updates. By accepting this agreement, you agree to receive these types of automatic updates without any additional notice.

You agreed to this when you installed Windows 10.

As a law site - we don't consider whether things that are legal are ethical.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Pat W. Oct 20 at 18:36
  • The discussion has been moved to chat. Please discuss it there. Comments posted here will be deleted. – Dale M Oct 21 at 0:31
1

Dark Patterns are what the term is for those wilfully-misleading user interfaces like e.g. (Microsoft?) Google and Facebook's Privacy controls, Microsoft's update system assuming consent so casually, etc. No-one reads the EULA because it is too long and complex. Informed consent is a concept in law as well as implied contractual terms and opt-in opt-out are all concepts here. This looks suspect, for example, because it implies terms that are not explicitly stated, and can be changed at any time, plus requires an external website to be referred-to, which may not be available (e.g. if doing the safer method of offline installation before beefing-up security THEN installing Windows Updates et al, which is IMO the recommended method to have a known-clean system that physically-couldn't have been compromised over the internet).

Privacy; Consent to Use of Data. Your privacy is important to us. Some of the software features send or receive information when using those features. Many of these features can be switched off in the user interface, or you can choose not to use them. By accepting this agreement and using the software you agree that Microsoft may collect, use, and disclose the information as described in the Microsoft Privacy Statement (aka.ms/privacy), and as may be described in the user interface associated with the software features.

Explain how that can be informed consent, or actually lawful, when it is so hard to inform oneself as to the entirety of the terms of the contract? I am not a lawyer nor is this legal advice, but for example, in my jurisdiction (England and Wales), you cannot 'sign a blank cheque' to agree to unknown contract terms. They must be explicit or they are not enforceable.

Whilst the GDPR is opt-in, not opt-out, and requires consent to be informed. Naturally, Microsoft's business model, for decades now, has relied-upon user ignorance and blind compliance, thus is inherently a form of abstract Dark Pattern.

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    The flaw in your reasoning is that it is well-advertised and well-known that they do automatic updates, like it or not. You have to be deliberately evasive to not know this. – user6726 Oct 21 at 18:41
  • 1
    @user6726 Please provide evidence to support your claim that automatic updates are "well-advertised". I've never seen it advertised, but I'm not exposed to very much overt advertising. As far as "well-known", a study I co-authored revealed that an overwhelming majority of Windows users surveyed didn't even know you can rename a shortcut. That study didn't ask about automatic updates, which is a more technical topic. So, if you have evidence to support either of your claims, please provide it. – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket Oct 21 at 18:48
  • @RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket They are in the EULA, the official Windows 10 Twitter handle for updates @WindowsUpdate and the second line on the "get Windows 10 page" link is literally "Windows 10 is designed to make it easy to stay up-to-date. New features and updated security are made available regularly, at no additional cost." Can it be any more obvious that there are updates?! – Trish Oct 21 at 22:20
  • 1
    @Trish Of course. More obvious would be: New features and updated security are made available regularly, without your consent delivered to your device." Updates have been around for decades. This compulsory subscription model is a new thing. – Hasse1987 Oct 22 at 2:19
1

By definition, any legal matter is that which is bound by, permitted and written in law; since Microsoft's user has allowed "Microsoft to install software without" (additional) "user approval" (refer to Microsoft's software end user licence agreement), the act is legal.

This is akin to someone not trespassing on property when invited onto the property or agreed by an 'occupier' of the property to be on the property (which of course, expires when being asked to leave the property, and therefore trespassing thereafter).

In case of Microsoft's software, if you do not agree to the terms of installation, you are to uninstall the software.

| improve this answer | |
  • you are not even able to install the software, but yes. – Trish Oct 22 at 13:27
  • "you are to uninstall the software" - Is this correct? Or are you to not use it? The irony, of course, is that most computers sold include no way to uninstall MS software without using MS software. The user is forced to find a third-party solution to remove the MS software, which typically involves downloading software. And in a Catch-22 situation, without using the MS software included with their new computer, the consumer cannot download any third-party solutions without using MS products (unless they happen to have multiple devices and at least 1 does not use any MS products). – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket Oct 22 at 14:55
  • the software is only to be installed if you "agree to the terms of installation" (either by clicking a checkbox or a button), which may prevent an installation (by greying out or disabling the install button) unless the user agrees to the terms. Hence by continuing to install or having the software remain installed constitutes to giving express consent & agreeing to what is in the terms of agreement (which may contain a clause allowing further software installs/updates without interruption of the user or "additional notice"). – Zimba Oct 22 at 16:09
  • See an example dialog box to decline an installation. – Zimba Oct 22 at 16:10
  • @RockPaperLz-MaskitorCasket: In your "Catch-22 situation", you may install another software to remove a software and if both happens to be from Microsoft, then if you keep a Microsoft software, you'd be agreeing to the terms of the software. Alternatively, you may (consequently) uninstall the other software too, when finished with the removal of the first. If your operating system happens to be from Microsoft (to begin with), then you'd be back at the original problem (of EULA). – Zimba Oct 22 at 16:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.