Microsoft Edge caught importing data from other browsers without permission
Microsoft may be eager for everyone to switch to the new Chromium-based version of Edge, but there are a few issues that may put people off. There have been reports that the update that adds the browser to Windows 10 is causing computers to slow down, but there are also more worrying privacy-related reports.
Eagle-eyed folk installing the browser have noticed that Edge is grabbing data such as bookmarks from other installed browsers before permission has been granted to import such data.
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Now there is certainly nothing unusual in a web browser offering to import bookmarks, password cookies and other data from other web browsers you may have installed -- the aim is, after all, to make the transition from one browser to another as painless as possible. But what people certainly expect is to be able to confirm that they would like this to happen.
During the installation of Microsoft Edge, it is true that there is a screen asking you to confirm whether or not data should be imported from the likes of Chrome and Firefox. But on Reddit, users have noticed that Edge starts to collect this data before they have granted permission for it to happen.
One user reports:
I just installed Edge today for testing, and I noticed my bookmarks from Firefox appear in the background/browser BEHIND the import acceptance dialog. The bookmarks disappeared after I said I didn't want it to import anything. Obviously it still went looking before asking!
Another Redditor reported the same, saying:
I did not authorize Edge to copy my firefox / chrome data at any point. I've jumped through a lot of hoops in the attempt attempt to maintain some level of privacy with this OS. Finally, it just takes my data without giving me the choice to opt out.
So, what does Microsoft have to say about this. In a statement given to Windows Central, the company said:
During the first run experience, the customer is presented the opportunity to keep or discard the imported data. This data is discarded if they choose not to proceed with the import. If a customer terminates the new Microsoft Edge browser prematurely during the first run experience (e.g. using Task Manager), residual data may not be fully deleted. We recommend customers not shut down the setup process prematurely to ensure an expected result.
Given the ever-increasing importance people now place on privacy, for Microsoft to be accessing (potentially very revealing) browser data without explicit permission does little to inspire confidence.