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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

February 1, 2012 at 1:30 PM

[Updated] Cagefight! Microsoft and Google trade jabs over privacy policies, ads

Microsoft and Google are duking it out in public over Google’s recent changes to its privacy policy.

Microsoft this week is placing ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, hoping to attract users wary of Google’s recent changes to its privacy policies and search methods, into trying Microsoft products such as Bing, Hotmail, Office 365 and Internet Explorer.

The ad (which can be seen here) says:

Google is in the process of making some unpopular changes to some of their most popular products. Those changes, cloaked in language like ‘transparency,’ ‘simplicity’ and ‘consistency,’ are really about one thing: making it easier for Google to connect the dots between everything you search, send, say or stream while using one of their services.

But, the way they’re doing it is making it harder for you to maintain control of your personal information. Why are they so interested in doing this that they would risk this kind of backlash? One logical reason: Every data point they collect and connect to you increases how valuable you are to an advertiser. …

If these changes rub you the wrong way, please consider using our portfoloio of award-winning products and services.”

Google fired back today in an Official Google Blog post, saying that “a number of myths are being spread about Google’s approach to privacy.”

It specifically takes on some of the points in the MIcrosoft ad, including the claim that Google’s changes make it harder for people to maintain control of their personal information.

Says Google:

Our privacy controls have not changed. Period. Our users can: edit and delete their search history; edit and delete their YouTube viewing history; use many of our services signed in or out; use Google Dashboard and our Ads Preferences Manager to see what data we collect and manage the way it is used; and take advantage of our data liberation efforts if they want to remove information from our services.

Google also said it was a myth that Microsoft’s approach to privacy is better than Google’s. “Microsoft has no data liberation effort or Dashboard-like hub for users,” Betsy Masiello, Google policy manager, wrote in the blog post. “Their privacy policy states that “information collected through one Microsoft service may be combined with information obtained through other Microsoft services.”

This is the latest round of jabs the two companies have traded publicly in recent months, over everything from patents to the security of their services. One exchange last year had Google characterizing Microsoft’s patent-licensing program as extortion and a Microsoft spokesman tweeting in return that he had one word for Google: “Waaaah.”

[Update 2:37 p.m.: Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw swings back, pointing out that: “We didn’t talk about privacy controls having changed. We pointed to their privacy policy changes. They are trying to change the subject.”

Meanwhile, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land fact checks the claims of both companies. He points out that Microsoft does have a Dashboard-like service but Google’s had one for longer. And he concludes that, on some of these assertions at least, both companies can claim to be correct.]

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