Microsoft updates its Services Agreement prompting few privacy concerns

The New York Times are running a report saying that Microsoft has updated its policies the same way Google did a few months back. The new rules gives Microsoft greater power over how they gather and use information about their users across their free web based services such as Outlook.com, Messenger and their Bing search engine.

You might remember earlier this year Google updated their privacy policy much in the same way, only they ended up being harshly critiqued by privacy advocates and consumer groups everywhere. Microsoft even tried to get in on the action by buying full page ads trying to convince people to switch to their products, and forget all the privacy concerns surrounding Google.

Microsoft, who have updated their Services Agreement, not to be confused with their actual Privacy Policy, haven't received any such critiques, though their move, that will permit the company to use the info obtained from one service to improve a different service, is pretty much the same thing Google did. “What Microsoft is doing is no different from what Google did,” said John M. Simpson, who monitors privacy policy for Consumer Watchdog, a California nonprofit group. “It allows the combination of data across services in ways a user wouldn't reasonably expect. Microsoft wants to be able to compile massive digital dossiers about users of its services and monetize them.”

One of the actual difference between the two companies is that Microsoft has stated time and time again that they will not use users' private information to target ads towards them. Something Google has been doing for a long time. However, Microsoft has stated that in blog posts, and articles and different mediums but not in their actual policy, which could be worrying. Essentially they have reserved this right for themselves but choose not to use it, for now.

Jack Evans who is a spokesperson for Microsoft said their plans aren't evil, and that this information is only used to improve the services they have, such as spam filtering and e-mail sorting, etc. He then added "However, one thing we don’t do is use the content of our customers’ private communications and documents to create targeted advertising. If that ever changes, we’ll be the first to let our customers know.”

As we mentioned earlier, these changes only affect Microsoft's free web-based services and not its paid suites such as Office, nor its other programs such as IE 10. However it's easy to see how consumers would get confused. In the end both Microsoft and Google are only thinking about their bottom line, so it's no surprise they want more power over the data they collect from us.

Source: NYT

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