Microsoft Looks to Burn Google in Education with Privacy Bill
March 7, 2013 12:04 PM
Microsoft said Google's cloud services are data mining students at school
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
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.
The 188th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
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