Microsoft under the EU microscope again

Over the years Microsoft has been under the cosh from the European Union regarding Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer. Microsoft is under scrutiny once again, this time for changing the policies of its Internet product such as Hotmail and Bing.

So, why exactly is Microsoft being looked into this time? It all centres on policy changes that European data protection regulators are examining for potential privacy issues.

Those same regulators have written to Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, and the head of Microsoft Luxembourg. It is Luxembourg’s and France’s data protection commissions leading the examination. Bloomberg News managed to get a copy of the letter, which states:

Given the wide range of services you offer, and popularity of these services, changes in your Services Agreement and the linked Privacy Policy may affect many individuals in most or all of the EU member states. We [Luxembourg and France regulators] decided to check the possible consequences for the protection of the personal data of these individuals in a coordinated procedure.

But Microsoft is confident that they are still above board. Robin Koch, a Microsoft Brussels spokesman, made the following statement on behalf of the company:

In updating the Microsoft Services Agreement we did not change our privacy policy. We are confident they will find Microsoft’s long-standing commitment to privacy has not changed.

There are 27 data protection regulators that work together in the so-called ‘Article 29 Data Protection Working Party.’ The same party insisted Google address the fears around its privacy policy in October.

Source: Bloomberg

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1Pixel said,

No they just like to check these things out and not let companies abuse their power/do anything illegal. Unlike a certain backwards country that many of these companies reside in.

The EU must be in a state of fair business and a blooming economy right now then.

Oh wait...

1Pixel said,

No they just like to check these things out and not let companies abuse their power/do anything illegal. Unlike a certain backwards country that many of these companies reside in.


How's that superiority complex working out for you? Keeping you fun at parties? Or do you just like to pretend that Europe has fewer skeletons in its closet than the other side of the Atlantic?

WooHoo!!! said,
Can we please move on from these comments. The EU isn't out to get any company nor are they fining to pay off debt. Companies need to be keep an eye on, same as governments. Judge them on each case.

Sometimes people raise issues and it is the duty of the EU to investigate and they also raise issues themselves which is a good thing. Just let them get on with it and see the full picture when cases reach their conclusion instead of foaming at the mouth for some bizarre company preference, nationalistic reason or just plain bad logic.


Thats great and all, and I agree with those standpoints.
But if MS is under investigation like this, while their privacy policies arent nearly as awfull as Google's.... Why isnt the EU investigating Google on it, well they are in Holland, unsure if the EU itself is as well though.

I'm fine with the EU looking into possible problems and if needed, protect us citizens from abuse. But lets not get hypocritical about it.

False.

Apple price fixing in books.

Facebook, privacy over and over, still on going.

Google, as mentioned at the bottom of this article.

Stop being fanboys and think for yourselves.

first off, please tell me what fanboy I am? because that requires a bias to one side, and well look through my history, there is no bias, just equal complains. second off apple's settlement was nothing EU basically let them wall over them, and facebook EU still is letting them walk all over them. Google and MS seem to be the only ones they really go after interms of money, and most of their demands are ridiculous to them compensation wise

neufuse said,
second off apple's settlement was nothing EU basically let them wall over them

Apple entered into an agreement with the EC that addressed the concerns raised without the need for a fine. It's a great example to show that the EC does more than simply fine companies. Facebook has come under pressure numerous times and the upcoming changes to privacy law will force Facebook to improve its business practices.

Plain and simple, EU needs the money, and they will go after big companies that they think they can get money from.

While i don't agree with his comment, you sir have ruined it for the rest of us with that last word 'American?'. Shows what a donut you really are.

So why even reply to my comment?

Let's see, I guess you have not heard of the EU Financial Crisis. Greece outlook is uncertain, Italy and Spain is finally just getting their act together, and Portugal is under pressure, and S&P downgraded the goverment's rating, and all of these crisis is also affecting the U.S. Anything else you want me to ad?

I'm sure there's been things that been said about the U.S, so get a back bone will you.

The money from these fines are a drop in the ocean in the overall budget; so money is not the issue. The EU is simply serious about protecting the privacy and rights of it's citizens.

MindTrickz said,
The money from these fines are a drop in the ocean in the overall budget; so money is not the issue. The EU is simply serious about protecting the privacy and rights of it's citizens.

As every governing body should, however, fines gathered for unwarranted checks are money in their pocket - no matter if the fines are a drop in the bucket for these companies.

Wow, seems a lot of people here are really hyper-critical about anyone blasting the EU. Why do they continue this seemingly crazy anti-Microsoft witch hunt? Microsoft sneezes wrong and the EU pounces on them with a fine.

The fines the EU could levy on these companies would be a drop in the ocean compared to the total EU wide level of state debt - so, its obviously not about the money!

The thing interesting is that they are looking into an aspect of Microsoft's services and coordination regarding user privacy protection, which is one of the things that Microsoft does right.

I would be surprised if they have any 'findings' they do not like, especially if they are still letting Google collect and use user information with no regard to user privacy.

Of all the online companies and your information/data/privacy, Microsoft is the A+ grade company that others try to emulate if they want to do the right thing.

Microsoft doesn't make money off of user data or information, so it is in their best interest as well to be the standard bearer in protecting user privacy across their services.

However if the EU goes after them, it would be evidence of a POLITICAL motivated movement unless they pull down or go after all the Google services. The GMail 'account' model is NOT safe, secure, and specifically states it does not uphold user privacy, and it is the BACKBONE of all google services from Android phones to even accounts on Youtube.

thenetavenger said,
The thing interesting is that they are looking into an aspect of Microsoft's services and coordination regarding user privacy protection, which is one of the things that Microsoft does right.

I would be surprised if they have any 'findings' they do not like, especially if they are still letting Google collect and use user information with no regard to user privacy.

Of all the online companies and your information/data/privacy, Microsoft is the A+ grade company that others try to emulate if they want to do the right thing.

Microsoft doesn't make money off of user data or information, so it is in their best interest as well to be the standard bearer in protecting user privacy across their services.

However if the EU goes after them, it would be evidence of a POLITICAL motivated movement unless they pull down or go after all the Google services. The GMail 'account' model is NOT safe, secure, and specifically states it does not uphold user privacy, and it is the BACKBONE of all google services from Android phones to even accounts on Youtube.


My country has recently started an investigation. And lately I've heard some negative sounds from the EU as well about Google.

The problem with MS is, MS has a history.

Shadowzz said,

The problem with MS is, MS has a history.

You are correct, however, their past mistakes didn't have anything to do with privacy concerns. This particular investigation just suddenly came out from nowhere, plus the fact that MS didn't made any changes to their privacy policies - unless I missed that news.

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