Simon Willison’s Weblog


Stealing everything you’ve ever typed or viewed on your own Windows PC is now possible with two lines of code — inside the Copilot+ Recall disaster (via) Recall is a new feature in Windows 11 which takes a screenshot every few seconds, runs local device OCR on it and stores the resulting text in a SQLite database. This means you can search back through your previous activity, against local data that has remained on your device.

The security and privacy implications here are still enormous because malware can now target a single file with huge amounts of valuable information:

During testing this with an off the shelf infostealer, I used Microsoft Defender for Endpoint — which detected the off the shelve infostealer — but by the time the automated remediation kicked in (which took over ten minutes) my Recall data was already long gone.

I like Kevin Beaumont's argument here about the subset of users this feature is appropriate for:

At a surface level, it is great if you are a manager at a company with too much to do and too little time as you can instantly search what you were doing about a subject a month ago.

In practice, that audience’s needs are a very small (tiny, in fact) portion of Windows userbase — and frankly talking about screenshotting the things people in the real world, not executive world, is basically like punching customers in the face.