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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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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.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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