Risk
2/2/2012
11:18 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Google Calls Microsoft Privacy Claims 'Myth'

Microsoft attack ad draws quick retort from Google, as controversy over new privacy policies heats up.

12 Epic Tech Fails of 2011
12 Epic Tech Fails of 2011
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Hours after Microsoft launched an ad campaign slamming Google's privacy changes as invasive, the search giant hit back, calling Microsoft's charges inaccurate and claiming that it, not Redmond, has the best tools for protecting the confidentiality of Internet users' information.

"A number of myths are being spread about Google's approach to privacy," said Betsy Masiello, Google's manager for public policy, in a blog entry Wednesday. "We just wanted to give you the facts."

Masiello called out Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw's assertion earlier this week that, "The changes Google announced make it harder, not easier, for people to stay in control of their own information." Not so, said Masiello. "Our privacy controls have not changed. Period," she said.

Masiello took particular issue with Shaw's claim that Microsoft's online services like Bing search and Hotmail e-mail offer superior privacy controls compared to Google search and Gmail.

"Our industry-leading Privacy Dashboard, Ads Preference Manager, and data liberation efforts enable you to understand and control the information we collect and how we use it. And we've simplified our privacy policy to make it easier to understand," said Masiello. "Microsoft has no data liberation effort or Dashboard-like hub for users."

[ Google tweaked its social network rules because of user complaints--but some remain frustrated. Read Google+ Name Policy Leaves Users Unsatisfied. ]

Masiello also dismissed as a "myth" Shaw's charge that Google reads its users e-mails in order to generate data for contextual advertising. "No one reads your e-mail but you. Like most major e-mail providers, our computers scan messages to get rid of spam and malware, as well as show ads that are relevant to you," said Masiello.

Her protests didn't stop Microsoft from taking a fresh shot with a new ad Thursday that bears the title "Email Is Important." The ad, which is slated to run in major newspapers, says that "many Gmail users are increasingly concerned about exactly how their private e-mail information might be used for ads." The spot entices Google users to try Hotmail and Office 365 if they're concerned.

The spat began last week, after a Google exec announced the changes in a blog post. "Our new privacy policy makes clear that, if you're signed in, we may combine information you've provided from one service with information from other services," said Alma Whitten, Google's director of privacy, product, and engineering.

"In short, we'll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience," said Whitten. Google said the changes would go into effect "in just over a month."

Google's plan has caught the attention of key lawmakers. Reps Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) last week asked the Federal Trade Commission to clarify whether the changes would violate an agreement that Google made with the commission last year to better protect user privacy. The lawmakers want a response from the FTC by Feb. 21.

Please join us on Feb. 15 for the InformationWeek & Dark Reading virtual event Clouds, Outsourcing, And Security Services: Making Providers Part of Your IT Security Strategy. When you attend, you will be able to access live and on-demand webcast presentations as well as virtual booths packed with free resources, and you can also be eligible to win great prizes! (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Must Reads - September 25, 2014
Dark Reading's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of identity and access management. Learn about access control in the age of HTML5, how to improve authentication, why Active Directory is dead, and more.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2003-1598
Published: 2014-10-01
SQL injection vulnerability in log.header.php in WordPress 0.7 and earlier allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary SQL commands via the posts variable.

CVE-2011-4624
Published: 2014-10-01
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in facebook.php in the GRAND FlAGallery plugin (flash-album-gallery) before 1.57 for WordPress allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the i parameter.

CVE-2012-0811
Published: 2014-10-01
Multiple SQL injection vulnerabilities in Postfix Admin (aka postfixadmin) before 2.3.5 allow remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via (1) the pw parameter to the pacrypt function, when mysql_encrypt is configured, or (2) unspecified vectors that are used in backup files gene...

CVE-2014-2640
Published: 2014-10-01
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in HP System Management Homepage (SMH) before 7.4 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-2641
Published: 2014-10-01
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in HP System Management Homepage (SMH) before 7.4 allows remote authenticated users to hijack the authentication of unspecified victims via unknown vectors.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Chris Hadnagy, who hosts the annual Social Engineering Capture the Flag Contest at DEF CON, will discuss the latest trends attackers are using.