Shortly after Microsoft launched a campaign slamming Google’s privacy changes as invasive, the search giant hit back, calling Microsoft’s charges inaccurate and claiming that it, not Microsoft, has the best tools for protecting the confidentiality of Internet users’ info.
Google said the changes would go into effect “in just over a month.”
“A number of myths are being spread about Google’s approach to privacy,” said Betsy Masiello, Google’s manager for public policy, in a blog entry Wednesday. “We just wanted to give you the facts.”
She called out Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw’s claims earlier this week: “The changes Google announced make it harder, not easier, for people to stay in control of their own information.” Not so, said Masiello. “Our privacy controls have not changed. Period.”
Masiello took particular issue with Shaw’s claim that Microsoft’s online services like Bing search and Hotmail e-mail offer superior privacy controls compared to Google search and Gmail, noted Information Week.
Masiello also dismissed as a “myth” Shaw’s charge that Google reads its users e-mails in order to generate data for contextual advertising. “No one reads your e-mail but you. Like most major e-mail providers, our computers scan messages to get rid of spam and malware, as well as show ads that are relevant to you,” said Masiello.
Her protests didn’t stop Microsoft from taking a fresh shot with a new ad 2/2, entitled “Email Is Important.” The ad, which set to run in major newspapers, says that “many Gmail users are increasingly concerned about exactly how their private e-mail information might be used for ads.” The spot entices Google users to try Hotmail and Office 365 if they’re concerned.
Google’s plan has caught the attention of key lawmakers. Reps Ed Markey (D-MA) and Joe Barton (R-TX) last week asked the FTC to clarify whether the changes would violate an agreement that Google made with the commission last year to better protect user privacy. The lawmakers want a response from the FTC by 2/21.