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

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Bill Gates shows up at Microsoft to celebrate its non-profit efforts

Next Story

More Lumia 510 camera roll pictures leak. Nokia India teases launch

17 Comments

Huge surprise. They are businesses and really not interested in privacy at all, other than as a term to pull in the gullible who fall for their "we care about your privacy" claims. Businesses want to make money. It is up to regulators to look after our privacy.

Fourjays said,
Huge surprise. They are businesses and really not interested in privacy at all, other than as a term to pull in the gullible who fall for their "we care about your privacy" claims. Businesses want to make money. It is up to regulators to look after our privacy.

I am still comfortable with Microsoft, they are the first company I noticed that always informs the users straightforward about how exactly they use your data, and the sending of error reports without personally-identifiable information.

Meanwhile, Google loves your personally-identifiable information. For ads. Google is sneaky.

For starters, even the free services come with a price. In this case, price is exactly this; they (MS, Google, whoever) have the right to do what they want. It's up to the person who blindly clicks on "I agree" to actually read what he or she is agreeing to. Secondly, I understand that some people email and search for all kinds of stuff that might me considered, well, "strange", to say the least. I, for one, am not ashamed of anything I do on the internet, so Microsoft is free to browse my entire email archive, search strings and browsing history if that helps improve the service. I am, however, slightly ****ed off by the possibility of seeing ads popping out everywhere. But I understand why they are doing it - to push people towards paid services. You purchase Hotmail Gold (or Plus, or whatever) and magically no more ads! It's been like that since the dawn of internet. And like I said, if you're so concerned for you privacy then don't do nasty or secret or sensitive stuff online. And read the fine print, no one is forcing anyone at gunpoint to click "I agree"...

Kristijan Sašilo said,
In this case, price is exactly this; they (MS, Google, whoever) have the right to do what they want.

You mean they're not going to give me a free Surface and Chromebook like I ordered them to?

The good news is that Microsoft isn't a company which is based solely on advertisement, meaning the data they harvest will (hopefully) be used for good and not evil (as the spokesman says). Nothing to be afraid of guys!

ingramator said,
The good news is that Microsoft isn't a company which is based solely on advertisement, meaning the data they harvest will (hopefully) be used for good and not evil (as the spokesman says). Nothing to be afraid of guys!

Yeah, you keep telling yourself that. That data will help save old lady's.

They are a company. They harvest information to make them money. Just letting you know before the bubble world you live in bursts.

https://choice.microsoft.com/

I think any company or government harvesting data on you whether you agree to it or not is a bad thing the consequences of which won't be known for many years, however, the fundamental problem here - as demonstrated in this topic- is no one gives a toss and hence you deserve and get nothing better.

Not surprised. I said MS would do this after apple was caught doing similar things. Funny thing is, there was only an outcry when Google did it.

techbeck said,
Not surprised. I said MS would do this after apple was caught doing similar things. Funny thing is, there was only an outcry when Google did it.

Exactly. I'm thinking that the reason is because there are a lot of apple haters and MS haters, but almost everyone loved/trusted google (at least at one point),... but then google was perceived to go down the 'dark path' lol

techbeck said,
Not surprised. I said MS would do this after apple was caught doing similar things. Funny thing is, there was only an outcry when Google did it.

You obviously never read the updated service agreement.

Couple this with the perverse way that windows 8 requires you to use a MS account to use you new computer fully and you have one hell of a situation... time to boycott this ****...reject windows 8

rhianntp said,
Couple this with the perverse way that windows 8 requires you to use a MS account to use you new computer fully and you have one hell of a situation... time to boycott this ****...reject windows 8

It's not a requirement, but boy is it nice. Syncing settings across devices without using a specific web browser or other technology is nice. This is one reason I will continue to use Microsoft Online Services.

rhianntp said,
Couple this with the perverse way that windows 8 requires you to use a MS account to use you new computer fully and you have one hell of a situation... time to boycott this ****...reject windows 8

Exactly, it would be pretty bad, if MS Account is a requirement. Could you kindly post a link before I buy any Windows 8 machines. Much appreciate it.

JustAUser said,
Exactly, it would be pretty bad, if MS Account is a requirement. Could you kindly post a link before I buy any Windows 8 machines. Much appreciate it.

It's not a requirement. They try to get you to sign in with a Microsoft account initially, which some users might think as a requirement. If you upgrade your existing system or choose to use local account on install, you're welcome to do so.

Of course, you should be aware that local accounts will not give you immediate access to the new app platform's auto-login for things like Skydrive, Xbox, etc.

There's no outcry because now this is a "been there, done that" situation. The general population is already aware of these so called service agreements now.

I never care about any of this. I never hear anything compelling to get worked up about..
The nature of the products and services offered means they do what they HAVE to do in order to continue to operate their business. Consider how many Google and M$ services handle private info..
of course they have to have some kind of contract in place.

Stories like this are designed to provoke us when there is nothing to get all worked up over. Sure if Windows 8 was designed and revolved around a M$ account to use the full services i would get my hate on but how does M$ support alternative creditials if no one else offers them ?

Its black and white to me. I have nothing against any company or service. Specific things may bother me but its not because i have a grudge against M$ or that I am paranoid about Google or something and I like and use both companies products / services with no concerns at all.

Commenting is disabled on this article.