Microsoft has agreed to lower some of the privacy settings in its new productivity tool after a significant backlash.
Privacy advocates had last week raised concerns about the Productivity Score tool in Microsoft 365 that would allow employers to gather granular data about particular employees.
In a blog post, Jared Spataro, corporate vice president, Microsoft 365 acknowledged the concerns and announced that the company is, “responding by making changes to the product to further bolster privacy for customers.”
It was the tools’ ability to enable employers to drill down into data on individual employees over the last 28 days that spooked data privacy researcher Wolfie Christl.
Microsoft has addressed this concern by removing user names from the product: “Going forward, the communications, meetings, content collaboration, teamwork, and mobility measures in Productivity Score will only aggregate data at the organization level,” wrote Spataro, adding that employers or administrators will no longer be able to access data about how a particular employee is using Microsoft 365.
Spataro also shared that they are tweaking the user interface of the feature to make it clear that “Productivity Score is a measure of organizational adoption of technology”.
He assured that the Productivity Score was always about scoring an organization rather than an individual. The execution however was flawed as the screenshots shared by Christl clearly showed that the feature scored individuals.
Spataro explained that in addition to dropping username altogether, Microsoft will also make “privacy disclosures in the product to ensure that IT admins know exactly what we do and don’t track.”