Microsoft is trying to pull on your "mommy strings" with a message on how it protects online privacy. The technology giant's latest advertising campaign includes a commercial that follows the life of a child from ultrasound to baby girl to tween to teenager.
"Some personal information you are happy to share online. Some, not so much," the commercial's narrator says. "So Microsoft is trying to help by adding tracking protection, in Internet Explorer, and including Do Not Track with the belief that one day it, too, will give you more control."
Microsoft's Take on Privacy
Ryan Gavin, general manager of Windows Internet Explorer, used the commercial in a blog post where he assured consumers that Microsoft takes its responsibility for protecting privacy very seriously. He then announced a new consumer awareness campaign focused on online privacy, with resources at www.Microsoft.com/YourPrivacy.
"Very few of us believe that sharing some personal data online is a bad thing. It's part of our everyday routines to fill out profiles, login to sites, and oftentimes provide personal information like our credit card or phone numbers in order to take advantage of all the Web has to offer. In fact, the more personal and relevant the Web gets, the better it can get," Gavin wrote.
"Yet, at some point, we all draw a line where we are uncomfortable sharing more. And when we think we're being tracked, particularly by those we may not have a direct relationship with, our tolerance drops. And while tracking isn't bad per se, we typically reach our information-sharing breaking point with very personal data, like items related to our kids or our health. That said, everyone is unique when it comes to what we feel comfortable sharing with whom."
He pointed to privacy controls in Internet Explorer, Windows, Xbox, and Outlook.com and promised Microsoft was committed to stay engaged with consumers as well as government, industry and consumer-advocacy partners to help better define the line between public and private while offering more controls through technology.
Poking at Google?
We turned to Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, to get his thoughts on Microsoft's latest privacy campaign. He told us Microsoft raised the privacy issue to bring increasing attention to one of its competitors -- namely Google. Google has been pursued by privacy regulators, including the imposition of a fine by a German commission on Monday.
"We think it's good, of course, when companies call attention to privacy issues," Rotenberg said. "But ultimately the protections for users are going to be established through legislation. At this point, I think, many are looking for updates to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, new safeguards for locational privacy and more activity from the Federal Trade Commission.
"The FTC is not enforcing the settlements we have. That's been our criticism. The real consumer privacy protections exist when Congress takes action and when the FTC pursues investigations. That's what we're looking for at this point."