Google has quickly responded with a blog post “Busting myths about our approach to privacy.” The post refutes claims made by Microsoft in today’s post and other places (including the “Gmail man” video from last year), as well as responding to the government concerns we covered and a report by FairSearch.
Here are all the “myths” the company’s Policy Manager Betsy Masiello refutes:
- Myth: In 2011, Google made $36 billion selling information about users like you. [Fairsearch – PDF]
- Fact: Google does not sell, trade or rent personally identifiable user information. Advertisers can run ads on Google that are matched to search keywords, or use our services to show ads based on anonymous data, such as your location or the websites you’ve visited.
- Fact: Our privacy controls have not changed. Period. Our users can: edit and delete their search history; edit and delete their YouTube viewing history; use many of our services signed in or out; use Google Dashboard and our Ads Preferences Manager to see what data we collect and manage the way it is used; and take advantage of our data liberation efforts if they want to remove information from our services.
- Fact: The vast majority of the product personalization Google does is unrelated to ads—it’s about making our services better for users. Today a signed-in user can instantly add an appointment to their Calendar when a message in Gmail looks like it’s about a meeting, or read Google Docs within their email.
- Myth: Google reads your email. [Microsoft]
- Fact: No one reads your email but you. Like most major email providers, our computers scan messages to get rid of spam and malware, as well as show ads that are relevant to you.
- Myth: Google Apps aren’t safe, and aren’t government-certified. [Microsoft]
- Fact: Google’s Apps are certified for government use because they are secure.
- Myth: Microsoft’s approach to privacy is better than Google’s. [Microsoft]
“We’ve always believed the facts should inform our marketing,” wrote Masiello, “and that it’s best to focus on our users rather than negative attacks on other companies.”
— Frank X. Shaw (@fxshaw) February 1, 2012
Privacy is a key issues for cloud apps, and this will likely not be the last time Google and Microsoft spar over their policies, especially with a new version of Microsoft Office with updates to its cloud apps coming later this year.