Microsoft tightens rules surrounding customer privacy and personal data collection

Microsoft, the company that has been plagued by security concerns with Internet Explorer in the past, has announced that it would change its new disclosure policy to inform customers explicitly that it will not use personal information obtained from product and service usage. This will protect customers from data being passed onto third-party companies for marketing and advertising.

This action follows a letter sent from Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat and co-chairman of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus, to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer expressing concern about the policy, which went into effect last Friday. Markey pointed out that Microsoft's new services agreement gave the company leeway to collect and use personal information obtained from consumers of both Hotmail and its recently launched email services.

Microsoft has issued a statement on the matter:

"One thing we don’t do is use the content of our customers’ private communications and documents to target advertising. We could have been clearer about this when we rolled out our updated Services Agreement. We appreciate the feedback we’ve received, and as a result, we will update the agreement as soon as possible to make that point absolutely clear."

According to the New York Times report, the policy provided Microsoft identical rights as Google, which actively scans contents of emails sent through Gmail. We've previously covered Microsoft's humorous Gmail Man campaign, which pokes fun at the search giant's desire to creep through messages sent and received by users. As well as this, Verizon was in the spotlight last week by selling accumulated customer data to third-parties for marketing purposes.

The Gmail Man

Speaking of Internet Explorer, Microsoft has stated that a "do not track" option will be set as default to true, which will protect users from having web browsing information collected by Microsoft. It's good to see the company react to such concerns, as privacy is particularly important to users, especially with consumers being ever more connected to the Internet.

Source: NY Times; Microsoft (opens in new tab)

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Ehm, MS will still scan private emails, they will just not use the result for advertisements.
  • "For example, we may occasionally use automated means to isolate information from email, chats, or photos in order to help detect and protect against spam and malware, or to improve the services with new features that makes them easier to use. When processing your content, Microsoft takes steps to help preserve your privacy."
    That's not a bad thing.
  • Well that basicly is just what is commonly referred to as an anti-spam filter and telemetry.
  • The bad thing is that their new TOS says that they can use the data they gather from email over all MS services, so the data they get out of your emails doesn't just belong to handling the mails but has influence on all the other services (even if you don't use them).
    And that is a violation against the EU Data Protection Direction.
  • In terms of security, Daniel, you are correct. But we are talking about privacy.
  • NSA are reading all your e-mail already... ;-)
  • Thank you Microsoft, as a developer privacy is everything to me, I am so relieved to see such a large corporation show such respect. Oh, and Fuck you apache for having a problem with it. Open source as google (not in the slightest anymore)
  • I'm not a dev but I +1
  • +1000
  • Yeah, I guess it's time that people leard that even though companies supports open source and pretends to be a good guy that doesn't make it so. I really hope that the politician sent the same letter to Google, but I doubt it.
  • If I'm not mistaken Microsoft already proved their good intentions when they released That service does not deliver targeted emails for your personal emails. If I'm not mistaken it can do it for things it know is say a newsletter from Newegg though.
  • Ermm this should have been done way back why is MS bieng all "we listen to customer reviews" for?
  • Sound interesting.
    Now, no articles on the new crapware announced? IPad vs surface, etc.
  • It is much better than the so call big-G
  • WIN!
  • Thanks MS! Fuck you Google for selling my info to the adcompanies! I get shit loads of ads... luckily I have ad blocker and spam filters... just don't like the idea.