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Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee covers technology policy, including copyright and patent law, telecom regulation, privacy, and free speech. He also writes about the economics of technology. He has previously written for Ars Technica and Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter or send him email.

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Brian Fung

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Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government. She also delves into the societal impacts of technology access and how innovation is intertwined with cultural development.

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Posted at 08:55 AM ET, 02/01/2012

Microsoft ads to slam Google on privacy

Microsoft on Wednesday seized on Google’s privacy flap as an opportunity to tout its own services as better for consumers.

In a national ad campaign to launch today, Microsoft says that it offers greater choice to its users and that it isn’t as interested in collecting data for behavioral advertising.

“Google is in the process of making some unpopular changes to some of their most popular products,” the ads read. “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 its services.”

Microsoft, trying to catch up on Google’s and Apple’s vast lead in the smartphone market, is taking advantage of a time when Google faces greater scrutiny by Washington regulators over antitrust and privacy.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the ad campaign.

Members of Congress have expressed concern over Google’s privacy policy changes, which allow the company to blend information of its account holders across its dozens of services.

They are particularly concerned that users don’t have the ability to opt out of the new privacy policy.

“Despite Google’s recent response, it still appears that consumers will not be able to completely opt out of data collection and information sharing among Google’s services,” Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said Tuesday after Google sent him and seven other lawmakers answers to questions about its changes.

In its letter to lawmakers, Google didn’t directly answer whether users have the ability to opt out of its service.

“We understand the question at the heart of this concern,” Google’s director of public policy, Pablo Chavez, wrote in a 12-page letter to the lawmakers. “We believe that the relevant issue is whether users have choices in how their data is collected.”

It reiterated the privacy policy applies to users only when they are signed on to Google accounts and that they could search or watch YouTube clips without signing on to their accounts.

Related:

Google tracks users across products

FAQ Google’s new privacy policy

By  |  08:55 AM ET, 02/01/2012

 
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