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Useful Windows 11’s New Privacy Audit Feature

A new privacy dashboard has been added to Windows 11’s Settings app, through which users can see exactly which apps or tools have access to hardware permissions, such as camera, microphone, or location. In this way, users are able to proactively monitor the usage of these sensitive hardware.

This new privacy dashboard will be integrated into the existing Privacy & Security page in Settings. From this page, it will be clear at a glance what application is using the camera, location or microphone. While this feature doesn’t tell you when a driver is using a hardware feature, it’s very useful in terms of privacy.

While it is also possible on Windows 10 to see which app is using the microphone directly on the taskbar, there is no way to view a list of all apps that have previously accessed the hardware feature.

As you can see in the image below, Windows 11’s new Privacy Dashboard makes it very clear for apps that access sensitive hardware features. To open the Windows 11 Privacy Dashboard, open Settings and go to Privacy & Security > App Permissions.

From this page, you can choose between hardware such as camera, location, and microphone. For example, select Camera, click the drop-down menu to view its Recent Activity.

At the same time, you can also see the timeline used by the camera. Or monitor applications requesting access to other hardware features, such as microphone or location for any activity.

You’ll find Microsoft Edge using your location, Microsoft Teams using your microphone, and third-party apps quietly accessing your location while running in the background.

The Windows 11 Privacy Dashboard isn’t perfect either, it doesn’t tell users when specific programs gain access to certain permissions. These hardware function permissions are critical and could be used by any program to monitor your location or what you are doing.

Microsoft is placing increasing emphasis on user privacy arrangements, and there has never been a privacy tool like this in previous versions of Windows. Google added a similar feature in the Android 12 release. It can be seen that Microsoft is actively taking steps to improve the privacy controls in the operating system.

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