Google: Here's the real truth about Microsoft's privacy claims about us

By Preston Gralla

Microsoft has launched an all-out public assault on Google's recent privacy changes, but Google is fighting back, claiming that Microsoft and other critics are spreading untruths about the new policy. It's a fight that's good for users.

Microsoft is running a big-money ad campaign in major daily newspapers slamming Google over its recent privacy changes, charging the company makes it "easier for Google to connect the dots between everything you search, send, say, or stream while using one of their services... Every data point they collect and connect to you increases how valuable you are to an advertiser."

In the company's Public Policy Blog, Google Policy Manager Betsy Masiello claims those charges and others are "myths." She says, among other things, that "Google does not sell, trade or rent personally identifiable user information." And then she confronts head-on many of Microsoft's charges. In response to Microsoft's charge that Google's new privacy policy makes it harder for users to control private information, she says:

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.

Among other claims that Google says Microsoft made, Google says that it has not made changes in order to make data more valuable to advertisers. And then it goes on to say that its privacy policies are superior to Microsoft's:

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."

Who's right here? It's tough to know. But in the battle between Google and Microsoft over privacy, the real winners could be users. If the companies recognize that protecting people's privacy is a money-maker because it attracts people to their services, they'll be more careful in protecting your privacy. So I welcome the war of words, and hope there's plenty more to come.

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