Microsoft To Google Users: Don't Worry, Be Safer

Trying to capitalize on new privacy concerns surrounding Google, Microsoft is touting its competing products in ads and blogs as a safer alternative.

"The changes Google announced make it harder, not easier, for people to stay in control of their own information," wrote Frank Shaw, Microsoft corporate vice president, corporate communications, in a blog post earlier today titled "Gone Google? Got Concerns? We Have Alternatives."

Last week Google unveiled a new privacy policy under which the company can share data among more than 60 of its Web services, based on a user's Google account. Users must agree to the policy or close their account to avoid having data shared across Google properties such as Gmail, YouTube, Search and others.

The new privacy policy takes effect March 1.

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Privacy advocates, in news stories and online commentaries, charged that the new policy raises questions about Google's commitment to user privacy and flies in the face of its "Don't be evil" mantra.

"When we read the coverage last week, it was clear people were honestly wrestling with the choices that had been made for them and were looking for options or alternatives," Shaw wrote. "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 both."

In the blog and in advertisements in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The New York Times, Microsoft promoted its Hotmail e-mail, Bing search engine, Office 365 cloud applications and Internet Explorer browser as safer alternatives to Google's competing products.

Google has responded to the privacy dustup with a blog postingcalled "Busting myths about our approach to privacy." In the blog, for example, Google responds to comments that its policies make it harder for users to control personal information.

"Our privacy controls have not changed. Period," writes policy manager Betsy Masiello. "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."