Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Busting myths about our approach to privacy

A number of myths are being spread about Google’s approach to privacy. We just wanted to give you the facts.
  • Myth:In 2011, Google made $36 billion selling information about users like you. [Fairsearch Ad - See this piece for more]
  • Fact: Google does not sell, trade or rent personally identifiable user information. Advertisers can run ads on Google that are matched to search keywords, or use our services to show ads based on anonymous data, such as your location or the websites you’ve visited.
  • Myth: Google’s Privacy Policy changes make it harder for users to control their personal information. [Microsoft]
  • Fact: 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.
  • Myth: Google is changing our Privacy Policy to make the data we collect more valuable to advertisers. [Microsoft]
  • Fact: The vast majority of the product personalization Google does is unrelated to ads—it’s about making our services better for users. Today a signed-in user can instantly add an appointment to their Calendar when a message in Gmail looks like it’s about a meeting, or read Google Docs within their email.

  • Myth: Google reads your email. [Microsoft]
  • Fact: No one reads your email but you. Like most major email providers, our computers scan messages to get rid of spam and malware, as well as show ads that are relevant to you.
  • Myth: Google’s Privacy Policy changes jeopardize government information in Google Apps. []
  • Fact: Our new Privacy Policy does not change our contractual agreements, which have always superseded Google’s Privacy Policy for enterprise customers.
  • Myth: Microsoft’s approach to privacy is better than Google’s. [Microsoft]
  • Fact: We don’t make judgments about other people’s policies or controls. But our industry-leading Privacy Dashboard, Ads Preferences Manager and data liberation efforts enable you to understand and control the information we collect and how we use it—and we’ve simplified our privacy policy to make it easier to understand. Microsoft has no data liberation effort or Dashboard-like hub for users. Their privacy policy states that “information collected through one Microsoft service may be combined with information obtained through other Microsoft services.”
We’ve always believed the facts should inform our marketing—and that it’s best to focus on our users rather than negative attacks on other companies. Onwards!


Sree Unnikrishnan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaun said...

We will be having the Microsoft CPO on #PrivChat this Tuesday at Noon ET.

Join us !

Shaun Dakin

Andrew said...

I think this latest attack campaign might require a more visible smackdown.

Average people don't read this blog...

Paul Lefrere said...

I looked at your blog and the one from Microsoft.

+ for Google: readers are encouraged to comment, and other readers can view those comments.

- for Microsoft: readers can't comment, they can only mail the blog author, see

Eric Seale said...

Perhaps its time to spend a little money on lobbyists?

I know the system is corrupt but the stakes are high here.

Pieter said...

I do use lots of google software, but changing the privacy policy like this should not be allowed. Or leave the option of people to opt-out.

I think this will cost google a lot of customers. This has been done to generate more money.

carl can said...

I am to submit a report on this niche your post has been very very helpfull tucson security

jordon said...


Mark Kéy-Balchin said...

"We’ve always believed the facts should inform our marketing—and that it’s best to focus on our users rather than negative attacks on other companies."

I'm sorry, but in my opinion, after the Bing clickstream data fiasco Google really have no right in saying this, least of all in response to Microsoft.

@Paul Lefere: To be fair, nor does the official Google blog. (Don't get me wrong, I'd love for both to be, but I'm guessing neither wants to stretch their comment moderating teams too thinly.)

@Pieter: In defense of Google, asking that the privacy policy be 'opt-out' shows a fundemental misunderstanding on what a privacy policy is. It is merely Google describing how they will use your data. It's not an 'agreement' - that's the Terms of Service.

Stanley N. said...

Microsft you need to enable comments in your blog because we have some question lol -M +G = G :) <3

Fitoschido said...

Why Microsoft campaigns always consist in trolling competitors and show misleading information? What do Microsoft fear?

Ceallaigh said...

1. Reduce the hurdles (per app privacy) to data sharing within your single sign on ecosystem.
2. Bind (them) with Google+ profile (real names, identifiable consumers) with now unified service policies, click through legal terms.
3. Easier to launch new services/products with this more platform centric model (leveraging common policy, data sharing API (future a la Amazon), accounts, etc).
4. ???????????????????
5. Profit

Simon Torrance said...

The World Economic Forum has been running a major project called 'Re-thinking Personal Data' which is driving new governance models in this space, as well as stimulating new innovative 'personal data services' for individuals. The principle is to see the user as a 'producer' of valuable commercial and social assets (data), rather than just a 'consumer' of services (eg. search or social networking), and then think about structures to enable these assets to be the user, for the user. the approach is to put the user fully in control of how their data is exploited, and create 'trust frameworks' (laws and technologies) to support this. We will be sharing more of the output from this project at the upcoming New Digital Economics event in San Francisco at the end of March: Google and MSFT will be participating among other important players and stakeholders in this space...

opt out said...

Makes me want to become a Luddite. I'm done with the big brother routine from every major communications and Internet company.
I have a droid phone from verizon under a two year contract. If I don't agree to this compounded invasion of my privacy, my phone becomes a brick. Is this even legal since I have a two year contract. Shouldn't google have to wait until the end of my contract to change the privacy policy.

POS Software said...

As the cost of the software is so high, so that the medium standard people are not able to use it in their office or industry to get more advantage. The cost of the software include the maintenance so that within a perod of time if that software shows any problem then the software developer team will repair it without cost. Also due to the high cost of the software most of the or student always trying to use the free version of that software and not able to get the real benefit of that software.


I feel sorry for Google especially because most of the media is singularly calling out Google given the fact that most of the stuff that they do are standard practices among major internet based firms. It would be great if somebody did a comparative study of the Privacy policies, Terms of Use and the actual practices of major internet based firms (in terms of the usage tracking techniques used, how data is stored/shared, how much control users of respective services have over their data and tracking, etc.)

With regard to the 'opt out' issue: It is a common industry practice to update 'Terms of Use' with impending changes in business/service conditions. 'Notice of Change' with a reasonable notice period is good enough and people who do not like the new 'terms of use' can quit. 'Terms of Use' aren't product features that one can opt out of. (That kind of service specific 'opt in', 'opt out' feature is already available for various Google products). Terms of Use are tied to the accounts of the account holder. It's a contract to which the account holder is legally agreeing and by its very nature it's 'opt in' (which the user implicitly agrees to if he/she continues to use the account after having been reasonably notified about the change). Obviously, Google (or any firm) cannot be expected to prepare Terms of Use tailored according to the whims of every individual user? Serving a Notice of Change about the updated 'Terms of Use' is the only reasonable way how contracts can be updated by internet based firms serving millions of customers.

El Tipo said...

In the policy, when you said "Can be deleted" I read "It won't be visible". At the end of the day we (the users) have no real control over our own info.

barcaxavi said...

Wow, really interesting comments. You should all remember that Google provides a "free" service, and You are NOT obligated to use it in any way! Get an iPhone, search Bing, use Mozy... or whatever else. If You feel this insecure about Google, use a service You trust.

Andrew Ware said...

Too bad most people will be too stupid to realize the actual facts, and the fact that Google ever so carefully worded these facts to make them legally accurate, but in reality avoid each myth (each of which are mostly true).

Huso Taso said...

"No one reads your email but you. ... as well as show ads that are relevant to you."

How will you show ads relevant to me without knowing what that email contains? How will you measure the success of that ad campaign without capturing my click info to that ad?

You can kid people who don't understand ad server technologies but this statement creates lots of contraversy on its own if you don't disclose the details.

Dana said...

After watching the "Gmail Man" video and reading this blog entry tonight, it's obvious who knows how to do business in a more professional manner.

Microsoft embarrassed themselves once again! They thought they'd prove a point that Google is oh-so-bad by uploading the "Gmail Man" video, but uploaded the video to youtube, a Google product. Talk about putting their foot in their mouth!

What they're doing is senseless and immature, and again, it shows how unprofessional they really are, and even more so day after day, in regards to the Google Privacy Policy.

How can there be any competition?
This just pushes me further away from Microsoft, as well as many other people. They look ridiculous!

J. D. said...

Google: "[O]ur computers scan messages to ... show ads that are relevant to you."

Again, Microsoft didn't say Google employees read our messages, but Google the company. So what you're saying, Big G, is Microsoft is actually right about you.

Outside of that, I couldn't make heads or tails from the corporate double-speak.

so sick said...

these words i just read are the beginning of the end of the zuckerberg-era...Google has the answer right's also in their company mantra "dont be evil"...facebook cant prove they work honoustly and it even feels rather evil or at least too tricky again and again while Google still is holding nothing back...people need to be made aware of this and the first crack in the facebook empire is made...keep your mantra alive be the peoples safe haven in the end Google

so sick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hugo said...

J.D.: "Microsoft didn't say Google employees read our messages, but Google the company."

What difference does that make in the face of ads like these? :

J. D. said...

@Hugo: The difference would probably be a slander & libel lawsuit against MSFT if they did say the employees were reading our e-mail. Or if it was true, how many potential breach of contract suits would be filed against GOOG, but IANAL.