Microsoft Slam New Google Privacy Policy in Newspaper Advert

Mike Halsey MVP
Feb 1, 2012
Google, Microsoft

Last week Google announced changes to its privacy policy that, on the face of it seem perfectly reasonable.  In essence they want to treat all the different Google services you use as a single big account and share the data.  What this ultimately means though is that the company will know absolutely huge volumes of information about you.

For instance they'll see what emails you receive and subscribe to, what videos you watch, what things you search for, what sorts of documents you work on and what the content of those documents is, what you blog about, what you take photographs of and where, what newspapers and blogs you read, what you buy online, what parts of the world you're interested in (and where you live), who you chat to and what you like to buy.

All of this information, when put together, helps advertisers paint an incredibly detailed picture of you and with about a billion users worldwide, that information is incredibly valuable.

Now Microsoft have hit back with newspaper adverts in the US saying that this isn't what want at all and that you should 'obviously' use their products and services instead.

In the advert they say...

Google is in the process of making some unpopular changes to some of their most popular products. Those changes, cloaked in language like "transparency", "simplicity" and "consistency" are really about one thing: making it easier for Google to connect the dots between everything you search, send, say or stream while using one of their services.

But, the way they are doing it is making it harder for you to maintain control of your personal information. Why are they so interested in doing this that they would risk this kind of backlash? One logical reason: Every data point they collect and connect to you increases how valuable you are to an advertiser.

So is this fair enough, sour grapes or the pot calling the kettle black?  In fairness it is all of the above as there are elements of all of these in the advert.  Google make almost all of their revenue from advertising and the better and more attractive they can make their own advertising, and the data they collect on their users, the more companies they will attract and the more money they can charge for the (your) personal information.

Many people simply don't want to be tracked and Microsoft point out that you can do this in the latest version of Internet Explorer.  What they don't mention is that you can also do it the latest version of Google's Chrome browser as well and that many of the advertising and data-mining tactics used by Google are also used by Microsoft.

Consumers will have to decide for themselves how they feel about the approach Microsoft are taking here, though many will just see it as a company taking advantage of an open goal for a publicity stunt.  The fact remains though that the US Congress is so concerned about the new changes Google is introducing that they are holding an closed door hearing to discuss what the changes mean.

So what do you think about Google's new privacy policy?  Have you even heard about it and what do you think of Microsoft's response?  Why not tell us in the comments below.


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  1. groban said on February 3, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Google is a serious privacy threat. I wish there was a seriously large non-profit foundation alternative to Google that was funded by donations and taxation. Not by harvesting and selling personal information.

    1. Insert real Name said on February 4, 2012 at 7:58 pm

      Why a foundation? Why not simply pay yourself for an email/calendaring/file-storage hosted service that does not collect usage data for marketing purposes? (E.g. Zimbra hosting.)

      Remember, if you’re offered a “free” service, it’s usually because your use of that service becomes a product that is sold in the market.

      That said, there is a real problem with Google, Facebook, Microsoft: they aggregate and link all this usage data and use it for their marketing purposes, but then seem to take the position that they can do what they want the actual raw material of emails, searches, etc., For instance by automatically opting-in people to services that link this data in a public way (e.g. Facebook or Google+), without asking permission. The privacy default should never be an automatic opt-in to new public derivatives or linkages of their raw data, nor should people have to do anything to ensure the privacy of their data when a new public feature is launched.

  2. Robert Palmar said on February 2, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    With Hotmail and Office 365 Microsoft is not presently
    using the contents of my email to deliver ads to me
    and Microsoft is not linking my searches to my ID.
    At the moment Microsoft is better on privacy.

  3. kalmly said on February 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Google has acquired godlike power and become just like our government: Intrusive, invasive, grabby, and dictatorial.

    They tell you it is good for you. You can’t give it up. You want to believe. You follow along – no matter what.

  4. SeanM said on February 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Integration is certainly a welcome move but if chats/emails or their contents/subjects/sources are made public through Google+, then it’s definitely an act of breach of privacy. I personally hate these socializing sites – how to avoid these? It’s too difficult to get out of Google world at this moment.

  5. flyhigh said on February 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    microsoft is the frying pan and google is the fire! take your pic lol!!!!! either way, the hurd of sheep are part of the big deal so not much we can do! microsoft is just as guilty as google when it comes to privacy issues. remember the xp issue?
    any way, google knows not to many people wil quit there service, so there we go.
    in a month from now, even this change wil be forgotten and something else be taking its place.
    who knows, maybe another blunder in microsofts own o.s?

  6. Transcontinental said on February 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    What Actually Changed in Google’s Privacy Policy ?
    Electronic Frontier Foundation has an interesting article on the topic :
    Read all about it …

  7. Markus said on February 2, 2012 at 8:48 am

    What we need is a browser extension to block HALSEY, and his BIASED posts on Ghacks.

  8. Jim said on February 2, 2012 at 6:31 am

    I had high hopes for Google, but now I’m distancing myself from them. Their search engine is a last resort, I have a Gmail account that I don’t use, Google+ is a waste of time, and I get better maps from other sites. Of course the MS ads are pure marketing BS, so they should be ignored. All this situation proves is you can’t trust ANY company, regardless of their promises or lofty motto. If they are faced with a choice of making a buck over serving their customers’ best interests, the money will win every time.

  9. clazy8 said on February 2, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Can someone explain why Congress should have anything to say about the Google policy? Google users are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves whether they are willing to barter exposure to advertising for valuable computational services. And really now: if you’re going to have to look at ads, wouldn’t you prefer ads for products and services you might actually want? I don’t understand the paranoia this issue arouses. People seem to assume that once they’ve seen an ad, they lose the power to make rational decisions. They also seem to think that Google products are free because life is beautiful. But someone has to pay for the goodies, and Google users should be grateful that the company has ingeniously found someone else to foot the bill.

  10. People'sFault said on February 2, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Google don’t need more than 1 page, because in short they are saying “we will play GOD and do EVERYTHING, and you will kindly agree, or you’re out”.
    Also, the net is full of lies bout “using the service without logging” … the policy DOESN’T say that …
    According to the policy, if you go to “” and hit search then you agree to the policy PERIOD.
    They will get away with it, because people still don’t read a one page policy!

  11. Robert Palmar said on February 2, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Google responds. Looks like their pissed.

    Google should think of running an ad in the same
    newspapers Microsoft has with the blog copy.

  12. BobbyPhoenix said on February 1, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Either way it does not bother me. My life is an open book. You want to know something just ask, and I will tell. I try to live the straight and narrow path of life, so I have nothing to hide. You want to track me? Fine. You don’t want to track me? Fine. I use all Google services and products from Gmail on the computer to Android phones with all Google apps. I use a lot of Microsoft products too. I am one of those who always checks the boxes to send anonymous data to who ever wants it when I use a product or app. Take my stuff! Do it! haha

  13. Transcontinental said on February 1, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I’ve forgotten to remain pragmatic in my situation regarding Google and mainly its new privacy deal, when an irrational reaction made me slam a door.

    From my Google account I called mainly Gmail and Reader, I mean these were the only services keeping my related data.

    At this point the new privacy policy wouldn’t have changed much to my privacy, and yet … well, as I said, I got annoyed by the very idea of centralizing data within Google services, it just annoyed me. I guess in a way it was the final straw to a wide process that included the worst of the Web : naked community, and when I say naked you know I’m not referring to citizens on the beach in the late sixties !

    Well, I’ve archived all my Gmail with ‘Mailstore Home’, and then closed my Google account.

    I just feel much better.

    At this time I perceive mainly two big companies as intrusive, as intruders even on a Web they seem to consider as their domain. Everywhere, almost I guess, Google and Facebook. You get a home-made cookie and/or a home-call to these companies on almost all websites. I know this is because those sites have accepted scripts, and they gave accepted them because users want them, and users want them because they believe that if they keep out of social web they will be like strange monjies disconnected from…. others.

    I feel so lonely, gosh makes me wanna cry :)

    1. kalmly said on February 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      You are not alone. I, too, am a strange monjie disconnected from…. others.

  14. KoalaBear said on February 1, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    I like the new privacy policy, so we can see more and better integration!

    Also I trust Google more when it comes to privacy and keeping my data safe.

  15. Roman ShaRP said on February 1, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I might be wrong, but I don’t care that much about Google privacy policy.
    I use Gmail, most of the time by mail client, and I don’t see so far reasons for big concerns. Those who read my blog and/or use blog searches can found about me much more than Google can. So… Why to be concerned?

    As for Microsoft – I never trusted them and their policies, so why to trust their ads?

    Google provided to me
    – free Gmail
    – free Linux-based Android OS with less restrictions
    – Chrome browser (not browser of my choice, but more useful and FASTER than the ugly buggy IE)
    – OpenOffice/Libreoffice support (I really DO prefer OpenOffice-Libreoffice)
    – some Ubuntu Linux support (perhaps, my next OS as Microsoft sinks into Metro)
    and most of what MS boasts are commercial restricted tools I don’t want to work with if I’m not well-paid for it.

    Yes, I’m not happy with many Google decisions, but I can’t remember any MS decision/solution I’m happy with.

  16. Robert Palmar said on February 1, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    First of all, what Google is doing is not “doing evil”. I suppose it was inevitable.
    Google already had this information on users prior to the new policy and for all anyone
    knew was already linking data bases behind the scenes where they now pulled the curtain.

    As long as Google is up front about the changes consumers can decide whether they mind.
    I prevent tracking by any vendor on general principles of privacy and not fear of advertisers.

    Even with Google’s integrated approach no advertiser is getting specific information on who you are
    but rather what kind of consumer you are, what class you fall into, and then display ads accordingly.
    This is something marketers have tried to do long before the internet using any available information.

    Microsoft does have a marketing opportunity here as many people do not like the new Google policy.
    Microsoft must be confident they do not in fact catalog data on users to the extent Google does.
    Of course no one has to believe them and Microsoft detractors will assume they do anyway.

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