This new Windows 11 privacy feature shows when apps access your microphone, camera or location

Microsoft has enabled a new privacy feature for Windows 11 that shows which apps access sensitive data or devices like the microphone.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
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Windows 11 is getting a similar feature to iOS's App Privacy Report called 'Privacy Auditing', which shows a history of each application's access to sensitive devices like your microphone or information about your location.

Under 'Privacy & security' within the Windows 11 Settings app, Windows 11 will soon start showing recent activity from apps that have accessed the microphone or other sensitive data such as location in the past week. The report includes the time and date the app last accessed the device. 

The new feature was highlighted last week on Twitter by Dave Weston, Microsoft's vice president for enterprise and OS security who noted: "New Windows 11 Privacy Auditing features allow you to see history of sensitive device access like the Microphone."

According to Bleeping Computer, Microsoft added the privacy and transparency feature in a Windows 11 Preview build released in June. It's currently available for testing in the Dev Channel – the less stable release channel with features that may or may not be made generally available. 

Microsoft is taking a leaf from Apple's iOS and iPadOS 15, released last year. The iOS privacy feature shows when and how apps access location data, photos, camera, microphone, as well as what domains the apps are communicating with in the past seven days. The iOS App Privacy Report can be enabled in Settings under Privacy in iOS and iPadOS, but it isn't available on macOS. 

SEE: Windows 11: Microsoft gives Notepad an update it thinks you will enjoy

That was a neat privacy feature that seems more obvious for mobile devices that people carry around daily, but it can also be useful for laptops that people are taking home and to work. 

However, the version of Privacy Auditing currently available logs when apps have accessed location, calls, messaging and screenshots in the past week.  

In iOS, users can tap on each item in the list of apps in the report to drill down to the domain name the app accessed and when it accessed it.

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