UK ad regulator allows Microsoft's "Scroogled" Pig Latin radio ad to be aired

It's been over a year since Microsoft began its "Scroogled" advertising campaign, attacking Google's stance on privacy on several fronts, including the Gmail service. Today, the regulator in change of advertising practices in the UK gave its thumbs-up to a Microsoft "Scroogled" radio ad despite formal complaints.

The Advertising Standards Authority stated today that the group got two complaints about the message, which begins with a character speaking some words in Pig Latin. Another person then says, "Pig Latin may be hard to understand, but you probably need it if you use Gmail, because Gmail scans every word of your e-mails to sell ads. But Outlook.com doesn't." The two complaints claimed that Microsoft also scans all Outlook.com emails.

In their decision, the ASA said that Microsoft's Outlook.com does scan all of its emails, but just for the purposes of finding any viruses or spam, rather than for ad generation as Google's Gmail does. It stated:

They (Microsoft) explained that this protective scanning was not mentioned in the ad because, unlike scanning to target advertising, scanning for viruses and spam was standard practice of which consumers were likely to be aware. Therefore, they considered that omission of this practice in the ad did not render it misleading.

The decision clears the way for the ad to continue its run in the UK so you may be hearing some Pig Latin coming from your car radio in that country soon.

Source: Advertising Standards Authority via WinBeta | Image via Microsoft

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59 Comments

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If people are concerned about privacy there's nothing stopping them from using PGP or a paid secure email service. You won't get that by default with most free email services including outlook or gmail.

Enron said,
I just send my emails using ROT13 encryption.

I send mine with ROT26 encryption... it's super efficient...

Both encryption and decryption are O(1)!

If you like google, you will continue to give up your privacy and personal information for their profit.
Simple as that.

MS is just pointing that out.
I like licensing fees over free if it means my digital profile isn't used to make someone else money.

deadonthefloor said,
If you like google, you will continue to give up your privacy and personal information for their profit.
Simple as that.
MS is just pointing that out.

Do you think that Bing isn't storing information about your searches and using that data to generate targeted advertising? Come on wake up. Search engines and free email services use advertising to pay the bills.

deadonthefloor said,

I like licensing fees over free if it means my digital profile isn't used to make someone else money.

What search engine has licence fees?

simplezz said,

Do you think that Bing isn't storing information about your searches and using that data to generate targeted advertising? Come on wake up. Search engines and free email services use advertising to pay the bills.

Yes, Bing probably stores information about your searches to generate targeted advertising... but that's different from scanning your emails.

simplezz said,

...

Microsoft's services have established information boundaries.
Google does not.

That's the campaign.

the fees are about mail services, not search engines.

deadonthefloor said,

Microsoft's services have established information boundaries.
Google does not.
That's the campaign.

Does that include sifting through user mail to find evidence of stolen IP? Haha.

To be honest I don't understand the outrage. The Ad somply points out what is factually correct.

Google scans your email the better to serve ads. Microsoft doesn't. Yes, it's a computer doing the scanning, not a person, but Microsoft are still well within their rights to point out to people that their email is being used to profile them if they use Gmail.

And no, I don't believe for one second that it's somehow 'worse' with Microsoft. One criminal investigation does not give anyone a platform to claim that Microsoft are actually using real people to read your email. No evidence of this exists, claiming otherwise is conspiracy theorist nonsense.

Rallicat said,
One criminal investigation does not give anyone a platform to claim that Microsoft are actually using real people to read your email.
Especially when Google employees have done this too, and much worse besides, spying on chats, mails, Google Voice data etc. and targeting and harassing children with no justification of TOS violation or IP theft.

Rallicat said,
No evidence of this exists, claiming otherwise is conspiracy theorist nonsense.
Only people doing so are Google fanboys who cannot actually disprove the accusations and thus are desperate to fling some mud back at MS. Despite acting all holier-than-thou that they don't like such "misleading" ads they have no problem lying outright when it comes to giving back though.

Edited by Romero, Mar 26 2014, 8:11pm :

How? It's bringing privacy awareness. They are warning people of Google scanning emails for profit purposes. A lot of people don't know that. It's an awareness campaign.

Yeah its only okay if Google, Mozilla, Opera or Sun are on the front line throwing dirt about their competition.

And it worked, MS is far less aggressive and more 'philanthropist' now then they were 2 decades ago.

Google is in a similar fase of "Sky is the limit", except this time there is pretty much noone firing back. Mozilla always screamed at these kinda companies and their tactics but they are silent when it comes to Google.

MS is doing it now and from what I can see are keeping it quite honest and dirt free, just stating facts.

Shadowzz said,
Mozilla always screamed at these kinda companies and their tactics but they are silent when it comes to Google.
What else do you expect when Mozilla's in bed with Google?

j2006 said,
How? It's bringing privacy awareness. They are warning people of Google scanning emails for profit purposes. A lot of people don't know that. It's an awareness campaign.

There's absolutely no difference between Google scanning emails and Microsoft. They both do it. However, Microsoft neglects to mention that they also look at your emails.

simplezz said,

There's absolutely no difference between Google scanning emails and Microsoft. They both do it. However, Microsoft neglects to mention that they also look at your emails.

The difference is that Microsoft only does it to filter spam. Google scans it to filter for spam, but also scans it to target advertising for you.

rfirth said,

The difference is that Microsoft only does it to filter spam. Google scans it to filter for spam, but also scans it to target advertising for you.


MS also has automatic scans for child porn though :p

The ad should be examined to be misleading as it states, they "scan your mail" and makes the oversimplification that the scanning means that humans besides you or the recipient can actually see what you wrote. That is not the case. The ad scanning is as automated and private as the virus/malware scanning.

Obviously both companies will deep scan and have human intervention when court authorized, etc.

It's not so private as you may think. Go do some advertisement on Google and see how much you can get to know about your user groups.
It isnt a home address or a full name, but it's close.

Microsoft's Scroogled campaign has always been misleading. Unlike Microsoft, their isn't a person invading a personal email account for whatever reason. The ad, itself, is perhaps borderline legally short of harmful misrepresentation. Microsoft wants people to think that someone is actually, PHYSICALLY, going thru people's account and reading their email. The only people who done that in the Internet History is Microsoft. What amazes me, how very ineffective this campaign has been to the masses of people worldwide. Chrome and Firefox are still the world's #1 and #2 browser world wide in terms of people actually going downloading into their computer. C'mon the reason why IE can call themselves the "most used browser" is because the 22% of IE8 users don't know how to upgrade. IE8 people,...IE 8! After a 16 year headstart, Gmail is the #1 email service world wide. Android is a juggernaut. Microsoft, just can't win. Without real innovation and business saavy, Microsoft will never win.

Kalint said,
Scroogle campaign is misleading but buddy so are alot of your figures there :|

What's misleading about it? They're only using truthful facts. I'd like to see you list something that are not.

Oh man, so many facts wrong.

Huh at Google noone ever invades a personal account?
You must be new on the internet, welcome. There's reports of Google employees (this goes 4+ years back to my knowledge already) accessing private information without any paper trail. Without any issues.
No MS employee can ever access your inbox without leaving a paper trail that will be questioned.

Firefox and Chrome only 'took over' because every IT "enthusiast" installed it for their friends and mothers. The average internet user will not give a damn. And thanks to this they are feeding their personal live's to Google for them to sell. (see stories in this topic :) or just google it :p). It is not because they are "better", because they aren't.

Most IE8 users are cooperate users.

And Hotmail/Live/Outlook is still the leading email provider in the world.

Kalint said,
Scroogle campaign is misleading but buddy so are alot of your figures there :|

In the past ads from many companies have not been allowed in the UK by the ASA because they were determined to not be truthful or, in the case of Microsoft too violent (the Xbox commercial were people were using finger guns) or harmful in some other way (the Xbox cradle to grave ad). Apple had an ad pulled by the ASA for claiming "all the parts of the Internet are on the iPhone" because Flash and Java, parts of the Internet, are not available.

If the ASA thought that there was any part of the Scroogled ad that was untrue, they would not allow it. So if none of it is untrue, then it must be true.

VictorWho said,
The only people who done that in the Internet History is Microsoft.
Lol, keep lying through your teeth when there's no dearth of evidence against Google employees doing much worse according to their own whims and fancies, that too to kids, with NO justification whatsoever unlike in MS' case.

They (Microsoft) explained that this protective scanning was not mentioned in the ad because, unlike scanning to target advertising, scanning for viruses and spam was standard practice of which consumers were likely to be aware. Therefore, they considered that omission of this practice in the ad did not render it misleading.

Google released/statement details before their changes took place on what was going to happen. And MS scans the same text/emails for spam/malware. Only difference is Google takes it a step farther and uses for ADs as well. Google is an AD company. That is how they make their money and provide their services. If users do not like being served more ads, then there are many other services out there. This campaign of Microsoft's will not stop that and is not slowing down Google at all.

techbeck said,

If users do not like being served more ads, then there are many other services out there.

Like Outlook.com. Odd how if Microsoft releases anything, for instance a free game on their store, that contains ads to pay for the service/game/etc. even if that ad does not use personal information, the internet has a collective fit for Microsoft forcing them to watch ads. But Google scans your email, then uses your personal information to force you to watch ads to pay for their service, Google needs to make money some how so we need to cut them a break.

This campaign of Microsoft's will not stop that and is not slowing down Google at all.

Interesting, the last time we heard numbers, Microsoft's online services were growing, taking a few more percentage points from Google every month. But I guess Google doesn't need those users using Microsoft services because they get all that ad revenue from forcing other users to watch adds with data taken from their other services.

Not to mention Google lets you opt out of getting targeted Ads in your gmail but you know... carry on with the desperate ads Microsoft

Kalint said,
Not to mention Google lets you opt out of getting Ads in your gmail but you know... carry on with the desperate ads Microsoft

Pretty much. This will have an even more negative response since MS snooped on someones emails.

People need to learn to think for themselves. Lots are going to take what happened with MS and think MS does it all the time and get all paranoid. Just like those who use GMAIL. Both offer good services and just need to decide what is right for you.

And people like to complain about ADs. Like I said above, that is how Google makes their money and always have. Like telling MS they should give away their software for free. Without ads, Google wouldnt exist.

techbeck said,

And people like to complain about ADs. Like I said above, that is how Google makes their money and always have. Like telling MS they should give away their software for free. Without ads, Google wouldnt exist.

Google having ads is not an issue. They do need to make money as they are a company. The issue is that they scan your information and then sell that information to advertisers, while Microsoft is criticized for having any ads when they, too, are a company that is there to make money.

Don't be confused, Google does sell that information to advertisers. I am in the process of upgrading my car, and have been negotiating with my BMW dealer. If Google scans my mail and sees that, then starts feeding me ads from Audi, Audi knows specifically that I am involved with cars, the type of car that I am looking at, and they can get my IP information since ad information (pictures, flash, etc) are redirected to their servers. Google is relaying my information to Audi. I do not like Audi, I will not drive an Audi, but Google just relayed my information to them, just because I was having a email conversation with somebody specifically.

A few months ago my GF was visiting some web site about babies (ugh). She was using my computer, and because she likes Chrome for some unknown reason I have it installed for her. She then forwarded me a few links to that web site using her GMail account. Oddly enough, a month later I started getting special offers in my snail-mail about special deals for infant photography, trial samples of Similac, coupons for diapers, and so on. She said that she didn't enter our physical address, give them her or my email address, etc. But they were able to track back to us, and send information to our physical address.

Chrome is no longer on our computers.

WhatTheSchmidt said,

Don't be confused, Google does sell that information to advertisers.

No, they don't.

To go off of your car buying example Google might find that you are interested in buying a BMW and profile you as a person that is currently interested in cars. Audi now comes around and pays Google to advertise to people that are currently interested in cars and Google then serves the ad to those types of people. Except for some very broad information about who the ad was served to nothing would be handed off to Audi.

Google doesn't even want to sell this information because it is much more valuable to keep it for themselves.

contriver87 said,

Except for some very broad information about who the ad was served to nothing would be handed off to Audi.

So it isn't selling information if they only sell some information, but not everything they have?

The NSA didn't do anything wrong. They only snooped on a little bit about you, and they did not take all they possibly could, so you shouldn't be upset about it.

Also, I find this very interesting:
http://thenextweb.com/google/2...ate-data-and-harassed-teens

Google has information available at the employee level. Microsoft went through many legal levels before they decided to invoke the EULA to look at one specific user's information to be used in a court case. Google employees can look up a user's private information at will for their own personal use. If the Google employee in the link didn't contact the user, they would never have been caught. How many times do Google employees look up user information for personal use, but never get caught?

WhatTheSchmidt said,

So it isn't selling information if they only sell some information, but not everything they have?

How exactly is that personal information? There is no name, mailing address, email address, phone number, or anything that can personally tie a person to that information that is given to the advertiser. I don't know of any advertising service (including Microsoft) that doesn't give some sort of a demographics report with an advertising campaign.

WhatTheSchmidt said,

The NSA didn't do anything wrong. They only snooped on a little bit about you, and they did not take all they possibly could, so you shouldn't be upset about it.

Also, I find this very interesting:
http://thenextweb.com/google/2...ate-data-and-harassed-teens

Google has information available at the employee level. Microsoft went through many legal levels before they decided to invoke the EULA to look at one specific user's information to be used in a court case. Google employees can look up a user's private information at will for their own personal use. If the Google employee in the link didn't contact the user, they would never have been caught. How many times do Google employees look up user information for personal use, but never get caught?

This has absolutely nothing to do with my response that Google doesn't sell personal information found in emails.

contriver87 said,

How exactly is that personal information? There is no name, mailing address, email address, phone number, or anything that can personally tie a person to that information that is given to the advertiser. I don't know of any advertising service (including Microsoft) that doesn't give some sort of a demographics report with an advertising campaign.


We don't know what Google gives out. You said that they give information away. We don't know what information Google specifically gives to their advertisers, and I have no problem believing that the more an advertiser pays, the more Google gives out.

But Google makes it easy for advertisers to derive the information that Google does not sell/makes it cost prohibitive. Suppose I visit BMWUSA.com. Google tracks that information. Audi then says I want to show an ad to people who have visited BMWUSA.com to try to convince people to buy. So Google sells ads that target only a specific list of people. Those ads then show pictures or host flash that pull images from a server - an Audi server. Audi now has my IP address which can easily be mapped to my house.

If Audi buys ad space from Microsoft, their ads are served up the number of times that Audi asked them to be served. There is no data for Microsoft to track exactly who those Audi ads to be shown to in Outlook.com. If Audi were to send brochures to everyone who saw their ad, it would cost too much because random people were seeing that ad, even ones not interested in buying a car. But if they were able to reduce the set of people to people who are interested in buying higher end German cars, then they can grow their business.

Google would have no problem selling some information - as you have said. But if an advertiser does not want to pay, your information can still be easily deduced.


This has absolutely nothing to do with my response that Google doesn't sell personal information found in emails.

Oh no, I committed the cardinal sin - I mentioned something not is not exactly in line with the topic at hand, even though that part was not a direct response to you. Of course, all the other off topic conversations in this article are OK with you, but you will not jump all over them.

How? They are warning people of Google scanning emails for profit purposes, not for legal purposes for a criminal act.

Xenosion said,
The timing of this is really asinine.
It's not MS timing. The Advertising Standards Agency typically takes about 6 months to investigate a complaint and if they uphold the complaint, their only power is to tell the company to not run the ad again, but in most cases the company has already stopped running the ad because it's no longer relevant. It's a toothless (and somewhat pointless) agency.

Yep, outlook.com only scans your emails for viruses and spam, and for snooping on conversations you may have had with anyone MS doesn't like.

recursive said,
Yep, outlook.com only scans your emails for viruses and spam, and for snooping on conversations you may have had with anyone MS doesn't like.

LOL...yeah that's true.

recursive said,
Yep, outlook.com only scans your emails for viruses and spam, and for snooping on conversations you may have had with anyone MS doesn't like.

I tell you I gotta love how the trolls are always first in line to bash MS. I am not saying MS is innocent here but you guys just are pure hipocrisy.

nickcruz said,

I tell you I gotta love how the trolls are always first in line to bash MS. I am not saying MS is innocent here but you guys just are pure hipocrisy.


Care to refute the facts being summarized?

nickcruz said,
I tell you I gotta love how the trolls are always first in line to bash MS. I am not saying MS is innocent here but you guys just are pure hipocrisy.

Welcome to the internet where something/anything someone doesnt like gets bashed.

Right... so warning people of Google scanning emails for profit purposes and providing data to third-party advertisers, is the same thing as scanning emails for criminal activity when legally required to?

recursive said,
Yep, outlook.com only scans your emails for viruses and spam, and for snooping on conversations you may have had with anyone MS doesn't like.

Don't forget Skydrive, or whatever they're calling it these days. It scans all your documents, pictures, and whatever else Microsoft wants to look at.

nickcruz said,

I tell you I gotta love how the trolls are always first in line to bash MS. I am not saying MS is innocent here but you guys just are pure hipocrisy.

The only hypocrisy here is from MS continuing with the scroogled ad campain after what they did with outlook.com and their internal investigation.

jasondefaoite said,

The only hypocrisy here is from MS continuing with the scroogled ad campain after what they did with outlook.com and their internal investigation.

A criminal investigation is quite another matter entirely.

simplezz said,

Don't forget Skydrive, or whatever they're calling it these days. It scans all your documents, pictures, and whatever else Microsoft wants to look at.

It scans your pictures for child porn... because it would be illegal for them to store and distribute it.

Enron said,

A criminal investigation is quite another matter entirely.

True. But the law wasn't involved at this stage. No warrant. No presentation before a judge. It was an internal investigation.