Microsoft Targets Google's Privacy Policy with New Ad Campaign

Google has faced quite a bit of criticism over its new privacy policy introduced just last week. Things seem to have died down over the last few days, but Microsoft is ensuring users don't forget about the changes with a new ad campaign that it will be running in major newspapers over the next week. The advertisement was introduced via this blog post from Frank X. Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Corporate Communications at Microsoft. Shaw writes that the changes Google announced make it harder, not easier, for people to stay in control of their own information.

"We take a different approach – we work to keep you safe and secure online, to give you control over your data, and to offer you the choice of saving your information on your hard drive, in the cloud, or on both," he said, adding that Microsoft has 'award winning alternatives' to Google's products for those that don't like the changes. "And to help remind people of these alternatives, we’re placing a series of ads in some major newspapers this week," he finished.

According to the Verge, the advertisements will appear in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and USA Today. Shaw posted the advertisement in full on his blog posting, too, and it shows that Microsoft isn't pulling any punches.

"Google is in the process of making some unpopular changes to 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’re 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."

Microsoft goes on to say that while there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to improve the quality of an advertising product, that effort needs to be balanced with continuing to meet the needs and interests of users. Businesses that find their own balance will attract users with similar priorities, says Microsoft, but Google's new policies have upset that balance. Redmond then encourages users to try Hotmail, Bing, Office 365, and Internet Explorer if the changes 'rub you the wrong way.' You can check out the full-page ad here.

Just a few days after it announced the changes to its privacy policy, Google attempted to combat the negative response with a new blog post to clarify the changes. The search giant said that it wasn't all of a sudden collecting more data than before: "Our new policy simply makes it clear that we use data to refine and improve your experience on Google — whichever products or services you use. This is something we have already been doing for a long time." What's more, the company says users can still control their data by switching off search history, not logging in at all (for services like Maps, YouTube and Search), and switching Gchat to off the record. Google even suggests users can go as far as using separate accounts for each service. "You can use as much or as little of Google as you want," the company wrote. "For example, you can have a Google Account and choose to use Gmail, but not use Google+. Or you could keep your data separate with different accounts -- for example, one for YouTube and another for Gmail."

Are you upset by Google's changes to its privacy policy? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Dark Lord of Tech
    Google Music is a great cloud music choice!
  • omega21xx
    Google music is one of the best if not the best cloud music choice. Having music in the cloud is the only practical thing i would ever use "the cloud" for.
  • jhansonxi
    Our spying is much nicer than Google's.
  • ta152h
    How perverse, Microsoft as the "good guy". Hell has frozen over. The most malicious, detrimental, law breaking company I've had the displeasure of experiencing, by the resource of their own failures, has actually become the white knight?

    Google is getting too powerful, just like Microsoft was, IBM was, etc... As revolting and disgusting as Microsoft was/is, it's pretty clear that any company that gains too much power gets too much arrogance with it, and becomes predatory and cares little about what is in the best interest of people who gave them that power.

    It's what brought IBM to their knees, it's what has made Microsoft a laughable failure at virtually everything they try, and it will bite Google, despite their current success.

    Even Intel, a far more important company than these, considering their incredible talent and technology, fell prey with fiasco after fiasco in the early 2000s, with RDRAM, buggy and delayed chipsets, miserable processors (Prescott?), and fines and penalties for illegal behavior, when they though we were all stupid, and would take any crap they produced.

    IBM and Intel are great companies, so they recovered, but what's Google by comparison? They're in deep trouble if they don't learn some humility, before the lesson is inescapable (and maybe too late). If Microsoft being the good guy doesn't tell them something they're doing is wrong, it's probably already too late.
  • spasmolytic46
    I plan on setting up a cheap VPS for personal use. I'll do my own email with multiple accounts. I'll also do my own photo/video/document hosting with it. My privacy is worth the minimal cash that takes these days.
  • Relax. All Google does is to look at who you are hanging out with, and what you typically search for. It will then be able to use these information and make searching for porn more efficient for you. ;)
  • doorspawn
    As revolting and disgusting as Microsoft was/is, it's pretty clear that any company that gains too much power gets too much arrogance with it, and becomes predatory and cares little about what is in the best interest of people who gave them that power.
    This could be right. Or it could be the other way around.
    Survival of the "fittest" (read greediest).
    Companies who will do every last thing to increase profits out-compete those who hold back on moral grounds (because in reality few people actually follow up moral outrage with refusal to purchase).

    Since I assume we all agree that we'd like companies to act morally, my question is: What mechanism do we wish to use to encourage corporate morality (fairness, honesty, no abusive practices etc).

    If we choose total capitalism and state that companies should not be taken to task for simply maximising profit, then it's up to the law (read: regulation) to enforce corporate morality.

    If we don't want lots of regulation, we can't also say "companies should not be taken to task for simply maximising profit".

    What should we choose?
  • doorspawn
  • NuclearShadow
    I hate to say this but Microsoft is right. Though I don't think Microsoft is in any moral high-ground to pass judgement on Google. I guess this is the natural evolution of a company however, so much for the "Don't be evil" motto.
    a bit of a jab at a lot of the other companies, especially our competitors, who at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users to some extent." -Paul Buchheit

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    Sure I'll gladly stalk you on Twitter Jane.

  • coder543
    Use Internet Explorer if this whole "keeping your data safe" thing just isn't for you -- what should have been in the memo from Microsoft.