Window’s New Parental Control Feature Could Accidentally Out LGBTQ Youth

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The newest update to Windows is here, complete with a pretty unique feature. The newest version of the system will send weekly “activity updates” on children’s accounts to their parents, allowing the parents to see their browsing histories and usage. But Window’s new parental control feature is a potentially dangerous invasion of privacy for young people.

The feature, according to Business Insider, is automatically turned on for family accounts on a computer running Windows 10. Each week, the parental account will get an email with information about the activity on the child’s account. As Microsoft put it on its website:

When you add a child’s Microsoft account to your family, you’ll get regular activity report emails summarizing how much time they spent on the PC, the websites they visited, the games and apps they used, and the terms they’ve looked up in search engines like Bing, Google, or Yahoo! Search.

But the internet has long been a valuable resource for young people to explore parts of the world on their own. It allows young people to connect with others outside of their immediate area and discover new hobbies or interests.

The internet has also been a particularly important resource for LGBTQ teens who are looking for resources. Some of these teens could be accidentally outed to their parents by Window’s new service. LGBTQ youths are still subject to abuse, harassment, and rejection by their families at heartbreakingly frequent rates. The Center for American Progress reports that roughly half of LGBTQ youth face a negative reaction from their families when they come out. According to the Williams Institute, a non-profit organization that works with LGBTQ young people, roughly 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. For a young person who is not ready to have that conversation with his parents yet, the fact that his internet searches can out him has the potential to become incredibly dangerous and damaging.

Another big flaw in this supposed “safety feature” implemented by Windows is that it doesn’t tell the young people they are being monitored. There’s apparently a small pop up that informs the user that their use could be monitored, but there aren’t any details about what extent, or the very active way in which Microsoft informs parents.

It’s understandable that some parents would want to know what their child is looking at on the internet, but this new Windows feature could end up doing more damage than good.

Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at



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