Microsoft slams Google hard on privacy with big-money ad campaign

By Preston Gralla

Think the Newt Gingrich-Mitt Romney war of words is nasty? Then wait until you see Microsoft's big-money ad campaign slamming Google over Google's recent changes in its privacy rules.

The ads will run in major newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and USA Today. It has a big headline, "Putting people first" pulls no punches, and starts off like this:

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.

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.

The ad then tells people that there's an alternative to what it clearly believes are Google's privacy-invading products, and points to Hotmail, Bing, Office 365, and Windows Explorer. Microsoft has posted the ad online; you can read it here.

In case you missed the point, Frank X. Shaw, Corporate Vice President, Corporate Communications for Microsoft posted a blog post saying this among other things:

The changes Google announced make it harder, not easier, for people to stay in control of their own information. We take a different approach -- we work to keep you safe and secure online, to give you control over your data, and to offer you the choice of saving your information on your hard drive, in the cloud, or on both.

Google announced the privacy changes last week in a blog post by Alma Whitten, Google's Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering. The company will consolidate users' data across Google services. Almost immediately, those worried about privacy started criticizing Google. Google is worried enough about the reaction that it sent off a letter to Congress defending itself.

Don't expect the Microsoft assault to end with a big-money ad campaign in the country's largest newspapers. I would expect it to be continuing theme in an ongoing campaign against Google. And Just as Mitt Romney began attacking Newt Gingrich after Gingrich took him on, I expect Google to fight back against Microsoft.

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