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Edge Browser Privacy Settings – is your data safe?

changes you should keep an eye out for

Arthur Gaplanyan

Edge Privacy

The tech world moves quickly, so sometimes it’s hard to talk about something when things are constantly and rapidly changing.

Last week we talked about great security features in the Microsoft Edge browser. This week we intended to talk about a recent feature that was added that causes us some privacy concerns.

As quickly as that feature was added though, it seems it was removed. This feature was in the experimental release of Edge (dubbed Canary) and had been showing up in some versions of the stable, public release. It was most likely a slow roll out that has since been removed, as it is no longer in the experimental release. Microsoft must be getting some pushback regarding it. We’ll still talk about it because it may or may not be in your version of Edge, and may still come to full public release. People should be aware of how their browsers function, and settings that may change that affect their privacy.

So, what happened?

Microsoft introduced a new feature into their Edge browser called “Enhance images in Microsoft Edge.” This feature was designed to upscale images, making adjustments to lighting, contrast, and sharpness. This feature was introduced without announcement and was on by default.

Sounds like a good feature, but in order to do so, the image URLs were sent to Microsoft for processing and provide “super resolution” as they called it.

Microsoft states that the data is encrypted in transit and contained no user identifiers. However, the data was cached and stored for 7 days to improve performance.

Despite there not being a user identifier, this is a privacy issue because images and corresponding website URLs are a big part of browsing habits and history and can easily be used to form user profiles. Additional criticism is that this type of data collection should be opt-in rather than opt-out.

We don’t believe the feature is currently present in your browser, however you should check to verify by navigating to the Edge browser settings.

In your Edge browser, click the 3 horizontal dots in the upper right corner. In the drop down menu, select “Settings” (gear icon).

In the tab that opens, select the second option from the left side menu “Privacy, search, and services”.

Scroll down to the bottom section titled “Services” and ensure that there is not a feature named “Enhance imaged in Microsoft Edge”.

Edge Enhanced Image Setting

You can refer to the two screenshots showing the feature present and absent.

Edge Settings

Current state of the browser

It seems that this negative feedback caused Microsoft to remove this feature. Though it may be reintroduced in the future in some form.

Another upscale feature called Video Super Resolution is also being tested, which performs similar upscale for video. However, that feature only uses local resources to perform this task and does not communicate the video or URL to Microsoft.

It’s unknown how Microsoft will proceed with these features in the future. Purely speculative, but we would expect these upscale features to be publicly released in some revised form. Hopefully with better privacy measures in mind.

We will continue to keep up with this ever-changing realm of browser features and update you as we know more.

If you have any questions or concerns about how you can keep your data private or secure, then get in touch.