Print 43 comment(s) - last by inighthawki.. on Mar 11 at 10:32 PM

Microsoft said Google's cloud services are data mining students at school

Microsoft is after Google again with a school privacy bill that could wipe out Google's cloud-computing services for students.

Microsoft is backing a bill that targets Google's Apps for Education, saying that these cloud-computing services are collecting data from schoolchildren for the purpose of creating better advertising or other commercial means.

"We believe that student data should not be used for commercial purposes; that cloud-service providers should be transparent in how they use student data; and that service providers should obtain clear consent for the way they use data," said Mike Houlihan, a Microsoft spokesman. "We expect that students, parents and educators will judge any proposed legislation on its merits."

The bill was unveiled in January, and is currently being considered by Massachusetts’s lawmakers. Microsoft has been very direct with the fact that it is behind this bill, and that Google is the target.

Google has said that its Apps for Education -- which is free and includes apps like Gmail and word-processing software -- turns off ads by default. But Microsoft said Google can still collect student data to adjust spam filtering, etc.

"Just because ads are not being displayed to students, it doesn't mean something else isn't being done with the data," said a Microsoft spokeswoman.

Microsoft made sure to add that its Web-based email for education doesn't have any ads in its settings. Microsoft doesn't charge for email, calendars or contacts, but schools need to pay for Office and Microsoft's new cloud-based service, Office 365 Education.

Some children's privacy advocates are a little worried that Microsoft's efforts are more focused on pushing Google out of the education space rather than the privacy of children.

"We'll still look at the legislation on its merits, but the origins of the bill are troubling," said Josh Golin, associate director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

This certainly isn't Microsoft's first attempt at attacking Google. It encouraged the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to file a lawsuit against Google two years ago for its Web search dominance and abuse. In January, the FTC and Google were able to settle the dispute without any fines -- which infuriated Microsoft.

Just last month, Microsoft launched a campaign against Google's Gmail called "Don't Get Scroogled by Gmail." It was an effort to bring users to Outlook instead through a series of television commercials and Internet ads. Earlier this week, Microsoft pulled the plug on the campaign saying that the catchphrase will stick around, but the ads will die off.

Source: The 188th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

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School Budgets
By drlumen on 3/7/2013 12:46:13 PM , Rating: 1
Considering that school budgets are already tight (in some cases are working in a deficit) the last thing that should happen is for the schools to be trapped into paying M$ for proprietary software. In this instance I think even if M$ were to donate the software it would still be a bad deal for the students. The whole "get 'em while they are young" approach seems sleazy.

I guess if nothing else, google can promise not to collect data from these sources (if they actually do).

RE: School Budgets
By Manch on 3/7/2013 1:17:02 PM , Rating: 3
Google collects info for advertising which it then makes money off of.

MS charges a small fee that it makes money off of.

Your rationale tho is even if it is totally free from MS it's still bad & sleazy but if Google provides it data collection free then it's OK to "get em while they are young"?

If both services were free why would one be less bad or sleazy than the other?

RE: School Budgets
By MadMan007 on 3/7/2013 1:36:09 PM , Rating: 2
I took that to apply to both companies.

There is still one difference though: MS is giving up current revenue from sales to 'get em while they're young' whereas Google, in theory because we don't know if these allegations hold true, does not.

RE: School Budgets
By theapparition on 3/7/2013 2:12:06 PM , Rating: 3
The "get em while their young" premise has been Apple's mainstay forever.

I find it quite interesting that MS and Google are making grounds on typical Apple school turf.

RE: School Budgets
By nafhan on 3/7/2013 1:47:46 PM , Rating: 1
Better question: when and why did we decide that collecting anonymized data for marketing purposes was sleazy?

RE: School Budgets
By Mitch101 on 3/7/2013 1:54:31 PM , Rating: 5

You think they don't know who you are?

RE: School Budgets
By mcnabney on 3/8/2013 10:22:20 AM , Rating: 2
Your ISP knows far far far far far more about you than Google or Microsoft EVER will.

Are you worried about them?

RE: School Budgets
By mcnabney on 3/8/2013 10:22:21 AM , Rating: 2
Your ISP knows far far far far far more about you than Google or Microsoft EVER will.

Are you worried about them?

RE: School Budgets
By nafhan on 3/11/2013 12:06:49 PM , Rating: 2
They certainly do know who you are. With MS and Google, you have have likely given them this info yourself as it's required to use many of their services, make purchases, etc.

The anonymization would be for data they provide to third parties (i.e. the advertisers).

RE: School Budgets
By Manch on 3/7/2013 2:52:32 PM , Rating: 2
The OP made that comment. I'm asking why is it bad/sleazy for one company, but not the other?

RE: School Budgets
By drlumen on 3/7/2013 2:06:21 PM , Rating: 1
I would prefer the kids to use google or some other open source software rather than for the schools to PAY for anything proprietary. (I don't know what world you live in but MS shtuff is not cheap as you pay in one way or another) If the kids learn the basics through the use of open source software then they should not have much issues with Word. Otherwise, if they only learn Word then they may have issues with open source. It may be a matter of semantics but MS definitely has their own mindset about 'forcing' people how to do things.

Even if google were collecting data from the use of the apps, it's not like they are going to know exactly what kid, out of a room of 30, was currently on and be able to track their usage. Not to mention that I believe that most, if not all schools, use proxies. Any data google did collect would be restricted to the org level which would anonymously include the teachers and admins as well.

RE: School Budgets
By Manch on 3/7/2013 2:51:26 PM , Rating: 2
OK, if you prefer Google, but you did not answer the question of why it's bad and sleazy for MS but not Google. Your post reeks of bias.

In the world I live in where I deal with the corporate world, small business world, Government, etc,employers don't require you to buy your own office suite. Yeah it can be expensive to purchase on your ownc, but a lot of employers provide discounts and MS does have deals that make it cheaper than retail. Plus if you really need to have it at home, then it's really not that much. Otherwise you can get by with open source.

As far as teh schools go, they will pay in some form or another. None of these student products are given away without a hook. There's no getting around that. When I was in school, the campus video system was "free" but we had to endure commercials. This isn't any different.

In this case, the school choosing to use a particular suite is basically selling the students metrics, which are used by Google to turn a profit so the school doesn't have to come out of pocket. Top it off, Google gets kids used to doing things in Googles products, and as you say hook em while they are young.

MS on the otherhand is choosing a different route. By emphasizing the fact that UNLIKE Google, they do not collect your info, they rally parents and what not behind them in convincing the school to cough up the dough. In return, they take a marginal profit on the chance that most kids will learn that particular suite, and hook em while theyr young!

So you see the end result is the same and that's why I asked why is it bad and sleazy for MS but not for Google?

Now as for open source, If you can learn these open source programs and they will teach you enough to use MS products, then I would argue that the use of MS products will teach you enough to use these open source programs that oh yeah, try to duplicate the expensive, proprietary office suites.

Also, I just want to make sure what you're saying. You're telling me that Google will not be able to target the individual students that are using the free Gmail?

Proxy isn't going to stop that. And so what if they collect teachers and admins info too, they can advertise progear for teachers, and learning programs to the admins. Google will be able to find out what services and other crap that email address has been used to sign up for which and what. From that they can target that user.

RE: School Budgets
By Jeffk464 on 3/7/2013 3:56:08 PM , Rating: 2
Basically everywhere we go everything we buy and every typed message is being tracked and stored for 2 years. Why worry about a small thing like Google services.

RE: School Budgets
By Jeffk464 on 3/7/2013 3:57:40 PM , Rating: 2
And would anybody be surprised to find out that every phone call is being recorded and stored?

RE: School Budgets
By inighthawki on 3/7/2013 4:01:53 PM , Rating: 2
I would because it would be quite an incredible feat for the telecom companies to have enough storage and storage bandwidth to record and store every phone call ever made. Do you know how much space that would take up even at low quality?

RE: School Budgets
By Manch on 3/7/2013 5:01:34 PM , Rating: 2
google or bing "does the nsa record phone calls"

RE: School Budgets
By inighthawki on 3/7/2013 5:56:07 PM , Rating: 2

The records include detailed call information (caller, receiver, date/time of call, length of call, etc.) for use in traffic analysis and social network analysis, but do not include audio information or transcripts of the content of the phone calls.

RE: School Budgets
By Jeffk464 on 3/7/2013 6:12:23 PM , Rating: 2
Sting had it all right.

Every breath you take, every step you take, I'll be watching you. We are so far beyond the book 1984, the author couldn't even imagine what was coming.

RE: School Budgets
By Manch on 3/7/2013 6:51:57 PM , Rating: 2
There have been whistle blowers that have testified in court that the NSA is collecting and recording everything. If you had searched that phrase you would have found it. There were also other links pointing to other claims and articles. None of us know for sure if it's true but there's a lot of evidence pointing in that direction.

RE: School Budgets
By inighthawki on 3/7/2013 9:21:16 PM , Rating: 2
I did search that phrase and found absolutely nothing suggesting that they record everyone's phone calls. Maybe SOME peoples' phone calls, but all? Certainly not. There is not enough storage medium on this planet to keep a recording of all phone calls ever made.

RE: School Budgets
By Manch on 3/8/2013 2:00:51 AM , Rating: 2
When I searched that phrase:
Using as many as twenty data intercept centers throughout the United States which can each store an almost unimaginable quantity of information, Binney notes that, “The sheer size of that capacity indicates that the NSA is not filtering personal electronic communications such as email before storage but is, in fact, storing all that they are collecting.”
Software can then be run against that data to construct timelines about an individual’s personal life and a map of their social and business connections. Bluffdale, Binney said, will be able to store 100 years worth of the worlds’ electronic communication. “

Too many quotes, to pull from that article, but after the wiki link at the top of the page, those were the next three.

No you didn't search.

RE: School Budgets
By inighthawki on 3/8/2013 11:20:43 AM , Rating: 2
If you read the articles then you'd also know that the buildings aren't even done being built, so how could they have been recording everything?

RE: School Budgets
By Jeffk464 on 3/9/2013 1:40:05 AM , Rating: 2
sure puts google's spying in perspective though

RE: School Budgets
By Manch on 3/11/2013 7:49:22 AM , Rating: 2
That sight isn't done. The former NSA employee has been saying they have been doing this for years.

Either actually read, or just STFU already

RE: School Budgets
By inighthawki on 3/11/2013 10:32:58 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry but you're being completely rude. I have in fact read what you've posted, and there is no mention of the NSA's ability (currently) to actually collect all of the information, they currently only have the capability to record actions and analyze patterns of usage across electronic communication. I'm certain they are able to record a subset, likely of the information that is collected and flagged.

RE: School Budgets
By inighthawki on 3/7/2013 3:59:38 PM , Rating: 2
That is such a biased perspective on things. Open source software is not some super special end all be all solution to everything. There are a lot of reasons people choose open source software - cost - and a lot of reasons they don't - often because it sucks or provides only a subset of features available in proprietary offerings.

Even if MS's goal here is to "hook em while they're young" why is that a bad thing? The goal of every company in the world is to get users to buy their software, so what better way to do so than to introduce it to people for free and show them the value of the product. If it was actually bad, people wouldn't buy it, and use alternatives, but if people find that it offers a good service, they will invest.

Not to mention, a lot of Microsoft's products are WAY easier to use than their open source equivilents. Learning to program using something like Visual studio is significantly easier than trying to jump in with gcc on the command line and the sheer awful user experience that Linux distros provide for novice users. I'll pay for VS over using gcc anyday.

Oh, and don't forget that VS has free versions.

RE: School Budgets
By Jeffk464 on 3/7/2013 6:10:04 PM , Rating: 2
Its a bad deal because instead of competing in the open market MS is attempting to use the courts to block the competition. It is reminiscent of apple in the smartphone market.

RE: School Budgets
By inighthawki on 3/7/2013 9:22:49 PM , Rating: 2
How do you know that Microsoft's claims are not valid? I've talked with many people at Microsoft before and they actually are very keen on protecting privacy. They may not just be using it as an excuse to gain marketshare you know.

RE: School Budgets
By Jeffk464 on 3/8/2013 12:17:42 AM , Rating: 2
It just by happy circumstances helps their business model.

RE: School Budgets
By Jeffk464 on 3/9/2013 1:41:38 AM , Rating: 2
happy coincidence

RE: School Budgets
By seraphim1982 on 3/7/2013 4:58:55 PM , Rating: 2
Small Fee...REALLY?!?!?
MS Office is actually one of the biggest expenses of school boards running the windows backend. Chromebooks and Google docs is a MUCH MUCH MUCH cheaper alternative that Windows based tablets and notebooks. Why do you think schools are moving in that direction in the first place. COST SAVINGS. With the state of education funding in the US, you think they have money to spare?

RE: School Budgets
By Manch on 3/7/2013 5:17:41 PM , Rating: 2

MS actually has many programs/deals where you can get the office suite for a low price and they even have a pared down online version of it for free.

Porkins is telling you to stay on target brah. We're not talking chrome books/tablets, or notebooks here, we're talking office suites for students. Not the campus infrastructure, or the network, or any of that.

RE: School Budgets
By Donkey2008 on 3/7/2013 10:22:07 PM , Rating: 2
+3 on the Porkins reference

RE: School Budgets
By ShaolinSoccer on 3/7/2013 1:17:03 PM , Rating: 2
If Google does get to advertise to children while they are in school and Google makes a ton of cash from it, they should do something with the money like help with the education system. Just my 2 cents.

RE: School Budgets
By hughlle on 3/7/2013 1:33:48 PM , Rating: 2
If as is said is true, then they simply base adverts on the content of the data stored.

I don't really understand the issue here. If you don't want to have targeted ads, then use a different company. Advertising is advertising, why is it suddenly being hyped into something worrying just because it's in relation to school children. Maybe if a company makes a ton of money from scoobydoo lunchboxes, they should funnel that into the education system too right?

I don't know, i just really fail to see what the issue is. Seems nothing more than trying to use a seemingly flawed moral explanation to alter the course of revenue and useage. Seems that noone really cared two bits about their scroogled campaign, and people kept on using google products over microsoft products, so now they're trying another approach to veer people away from google products.

As to advertising, it does not bother me, i will happily accept a bit of advertising targeted through mining of keywords, than have to pay for the same product with real cash. Because you know what i do, i just ignore the adverts. It's not like youtube, being forced to watch them, it's a small bar at the top of the email page, hardly shifting my perception of what is acceptable and intrusive.

RE: School Budgets
By hughlle on 3/7/2013 1:36:40 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and they clearly don't do much intensive data minining considering that no advert i've actually taken the few seconds to glance at ever has any relevance to anything i've been talking about or receiving via email. Right now there is one for designer bathrooms. Um. Ok. they must have been scanning every word in and out of my inbox to tailer it so perfectly to me :D

RE: School Budgets
By MadMan007 on 3/7/2013 1:37:02 PM , Rating: 3

RE: School Budgets
By theapparition on 3/7/2013 2:09:53 PM , Rating: 2
If the article represents the facts correctly, then it's not even an issue with ads.

Currently, Google for education doesn't show ads. Microsoft's issue is that they "think" Google is still collecting metrics from kids.

They don't know, but are waving the possibility around to anyone who will listen. Since when did MS become Tipper Gore?

RE: School Budgets
By Manch on 3/7/2013 2:56:00 PM , Rating: 2
There is no moral dilemma here. MS is just using "privacy" scare tactics to sway parents in their favor in order to convince the schools to buy into their student programs.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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