Skip to main content

Windows 10 Telemetry is Uploading your Webcam Footage

By June 25, 2019September 23rd, 2020Blog, Microsoft, Security, Windows
windows 10

Recently my Windows 10 Home workstation ran into a problem with high CPU utilization caused by CompatTelRunner.exe. This appears to be a very common problem with some posts on forums suggesting KB2976978 update may be at fault. There are quite a few excellent writeups on how to use Group Policy or Regedit to limit or disable the telemetry service.

Unlike Windows 10 Enterprise, where you can employ a Group Policy set to your entire business to eliminate telemetry, on Windows 10 Home edition you are not able to completely disable CompatTelRunner.exe using reghacks or gpedit.

It’s fair to say at this point in the evolution of technology, we expect some information from our devices to be collected–every End User License Agreement has verbiage to cover this sort of activity. What surprised me while searching for a proper fix for the problem was the fact several websites indicated telemetry is sending footage from your webcam as part of ‘diagnostics’ data.

Can’t imagine what useful information can be gathered by looking up someone’s nose, but the privacy implications of capturing a close-up image of your face are huge and I decided to immediately rip the service out completely.

Here are the 3 options to accomplish this:

Option 1: Completely rip out the telemetry service:

This is what I used on my personal laptop, keep in mind these directions instruct you to disable a component of Windows which may or may not create problems in the future. It is also likely that Windows Update may restore this service if instructions are followed exactly as in the article. If you are utilizing this method, I’d suggest changing security permissions of the executable and preventing ‘SYSTEM’ account as well as ‘Trusted Installer’ accounts from accessing the file which will disallow the service to start or update itself.

Option 2: Use powershell to blacklist telemetry gathering IP addresses

Option 3: Another comprehensive tool for disabling tracking.

Again, keep in mind these posts describe ways to remove or cripple a component of the operating system and are thus unsuitable for business use. However, you are running Enterprise edition on all your systems, right?

JacobR, PEI

Leave a Reply