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The new Privacy Auditing feature in Windows 11 allows users to see a list of which apps have accessed their microphone or camera recently, plus details of any other suspicious activity. 

See Which Apps Have Accessed Your Microphone and Camera 

David Weston, Microsoft’s VP for Enterprise and OS Security, highlighted the new privacy feature in a recent tweet, saying: “New Windows 11 Privacy Auditing features allow you to see history of sensitive device access like the Microphone.”

The feature has also been introduced in the Dev Channel of the Windows Insider programme. 

  • The Privacy Auditing feature, which can be accessed via Settings – Privacy & security > App permissions, shows users: 
  • Which apps have accessed the microphone in the last week, giving dates and times. 
  • Which apps have accessed contacts, or phone call, message, location, and screenshot data. 

Phones Already Have A Similar Feature 

Phone operating systems, for example, already have a similar feature. For example, last June, it was announced that Google’s Android 12 (which was in beta) would have a camera and microphone access indicator which shows users if an app tries to access the device’s camera or microphone. Android 12 was released last October, and the access indicator gives users and indicator in the top-right corner of the status bar when the camera or microphone is in use.  Clicking on the microphone or camera indicators shows the users which apps have accessed their data.  

iOS 14 also has a similar feature. An orange dot, an orange square, or a green dot in the status bar at the top of the screen indicate when the microphone or camera is being used by an app. 

Microsoft’s Privacy Record 

Microsoft has been criticised over some aspects of its privacy record in recent years, e.g. with Windows 10 being criticised in 2015 over its default settings and personalised embedded adverts. Adding more privacy controls or features, such as the new Privacy Auditing feature is, therefore, likely to get a positive reception from users. 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Users are now more aware than ever of data protection and privacy matters and value any ways that their privacy can be protected. For businesses, these are particularly important issues both for compliance, and to avoid potentially costly breaches or providing any social engineering vectors for hackers and other bad actors. This new feature adds a useful transparency element to Windows 11 which could enable users to make better choices about apps in terms of security and privacy and reduce risk to themselves and their businesses. 

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