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Microsoft: the 'Scroogled' Show Must Go On 286

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the campaigns-everyone-forgot-about dept.
theodp writes "Microsoft says that the death of its 'Scroogled' ad campaign against Google has been greatly exaggerated. 'Scroogled will go on as long as Google keeps Scroogling people,' said a Microsoft spokesperson. 'Nearly 115,000 people signed a petition asking Google to stop going through their Gmail.' So, is Microsoft's scare campaign justified? Well, in a recently-published patent application for a Method and System for Dynamic Textual Ad Distribution Via Email, Google explains how its invention can be used to milk more money from advertisers by identifying lactating Moms, which might make some uneasy. Google also illustrates how advertisers can bid on access to those suffering from breast cancer, bi-polar disorder, depression, and panic anxiety. Hey, what could possibly go wrong?"
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Microsoft: the 'Scroogled' Show Must Go On

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  • by jawtheshark (198669) * <slashdotNO@SPAMjawtheshark.com> on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:10AM (#43077725) Homepage Journal

    Google explains how its invention can be used to milk more money from advertisers by identifying lactating Moms, which might make some uneasy

    How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did [forbes.com].

    All in all, that technology isn't all that surprising to me....

    • Outside of online tracking they found between the times of 6:00 - 9:00 there is a sales influx of beer and dipers at the same store.
      There is a mountain of stats that can track you in many different areas.

    • I don't understand... if you're doing any analysis at all that has to be the easiest thing you could possibly try to determine. Pregnancy test gets purchased and the following month feminine supplies and/or birth control stop getting purchased. That's trivial, and worth coding in specific rules for simply because of the amount of potential sales a pregnancy will generate.

      • by jekewa (751500) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @10:00AM (#43078605) Homepage Journal

        Didn't read the article, and don't get data intelligence. Wow, that's a tough spot to be in.

        If you RTFA you can see from the (outside of Target) analysis that it was due to increasing other purchases and not the stoppage of birth control. At the very least, I'm sure that even the most diabolical data analyzer realizes you can't dive into the protected vault of (not over-the-counter) health purchases. It was because of the purchase of certain vitamin combinations and cotton balls that set Target off.

        In hindsight it's always easy to tear apart someone's logic. It's really easy if you make up your own as you go.

        I gotta say "duh" to anyone who acts surprised that businesses that gather data use that data to improve their business. It'd be nice to be able to trust that the business is acting responsibly and in a way that they believe is in the interest of both parties; I mean, if you're pregnant, why wouldn't you want coupons for purchases you're likely to be making anyway? When you grocery shop, the receipt contains coupons for things you just bought, or things just like it, or things that complement those things. When you buy anything from Amazon, you're likely to get "you'll also like" e-mail and banner ads, even if you're not visiting an Amazon page.

        I'm sure Microsoft, for all of their "scroogle" name calling isn't avoiding reading your e-mail or Bing searches to come up with a marketing plan or to direct advertising or to refine search results.

        Of course, it's naive to think that all businesses will act in the best interest of anyone other than themselves, surely some or many will accept marketing funds from less scrupulous marketers. And it's also unfair to think that every recipient of such targeted marketing will take the offer with any care (otherwise SPAM would have stopped long ago).

        There are only a few was to avoid being scroogled by anyone. Most involve not being on the Internet, or not being truthful on the Internet, or hosting your own and forcing everyone else to participate in your service...but be careful you don't become the scroogler if you do. The key is to be mindful that scroogling is going on. it has been going on for a lot longer than most of us think; even if we limit it to just the Internet. Pretty much since the first "free" e-mail or search service was provided...and that's before most Internet users were born.

        • I don't think you are sufficiently concerned about the privacy issue. Perhaps you'd show more interest if you thought that insurance companies can track your purchases without your permission to extract higher premiums from you [wsj.com]. I would agree that it's hardly surprising, but would also argue that governmental regulations to protect consumer privacy would be an option here. Given that there is now a health care mandate, it would be reasonable to contain the monstrous corporations who stand to benefit direct
        • by samkass (174571)

          I'm sure Microsoft, for all of their "scroogle" name calling isn't avoiding reading your e-mail or Bing searches to come up with a marketing plan or to direct advertising or to refine search results.

          They say their not scanning email, and their privacy policy forbids it. Same with Apple. Google's the only major player who scans your email to look for vulnerabilities to sell to advertisers I know of. On the other hand, people don't seem to care and Google makes billions at it, so why not. I think most people don't actually realize this is going on, though-- Google's privacy policy goes out of its way to obscure the fact that they allow and actually do it.

      • by neonKow (1239288)

        Well, you could read the link first before commenting. Obviously if they were doing analysis at that low a level, they wouldn't have a job:

        One Target employee I spoke to provided a hypothetical example. Take a fictional Target shopper named Jenny Ward, who is 23, lives in Atlanta and in March bought cocoa-butter lotion, a purse large enough to double as a diaper bag, zinc and magnesium supplements and a bright blue rug. There’s, say, an 87 percent chance that she’s pregnant and that her delivery date is sometime in late August.

        One of the problems is that while Target SELLS feminine supplies and/or birth control, people don't view Target as the source for such things and will go to CVS for those items, Target for the diapers, Safeway for baby food, and maybe Sears for the baby supplies, and Target wants to sell them every thing. So the analysis isn't as easy as it would be if you knew their ent

        • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @11:03AM (#43079301) Journal

          I've linked to this in the past, but the privacy statement on the scroogled web page clearly states that they have the right to do exactly what Google is doing.

          "We use the information we collect to provide the services you request. Our services may include the display of personalized content and advertising."

          http://privacy.microsoft.com/en-us/default.mspx [microsoft.com]

          • Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

            by mystikkman (1487801) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @01:37PM (#43081379)

            Here is Microsoft's statement:

            Outlook.com only scans the contents of your email to help protect you and display, categorize, and sort your mail appropriately. Just like the postal service sorts and scans mail and packages for dangerous explosives and biohazards, Outlook.com scans your mail to help prevent spam, gray mail, phishing scams, viruses, malware, and other dangers and annoyances. Microsoft and its email services, including Outlook.com, Hotmail, and Office 365, do not use the content of customers’ private emails, communications, or documents to target advertising.

            http://www.scroogled.com/OurPosition [scroogled.com]

            Please stop spreading misleading FUD for karma. Your post getting to +4 informative is what's wrong with Slashdot.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Do you get the difference between "they have reserved the right per their privacy policy" and "their marketing campaign says they don't do it"? Do you think what you quoted is legally binding in any way?

              If they'd care about that, they could at least give Outlook.com a separate policy stating they've restricted themselves. As it is now, it just links to common MS policy, quoted above.

      • It wasn't as simple as that. I remember reading about that (it was all over the local paper as target is based in the Twin Cities) and it seems that the product that tripped the switch was the switch from scented to unscented body lotion as this is a fairly common thing to happen as pregnant women's noses become more sensitive.
  • by Grand Facade (35180) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:14AM (#43077759)

    That cannot be obtained from your doctor, and Google is going to sell it???!!!!!

    This is not going to end well.

    We all thought Big Brother was the Govn't, it's looking like Google is who we have to watch out for.

    • Google explains how its invention can be used to milk more money from advertisers by identifying lactating Moms, which might make some uneasy.

      Is that what Sergey Brin is looking for with his Google glasses?

      • "Gargoyles represent the embarrassing side of the Central Intelligence Corporation. Instead of using laptops, they wear their computers on their bodies, broken up into separate modules that hang on the waist, on the back, on the headset. They serve as human surveillance devices, recording everything that happens around them. Nothing looks stupider; these getups are the modern-day equivalent of the slide-rule scabbard or the calculator pouch on the belt, marking the user as belonging to a class that is at on

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:25AM (#43077841)

      except it isnt.. Google isnt selling you access to a persons information, they are selling you access to a target audience, the same thing MS does. There is nothing identifying about it.

      • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @09:15AM (#43078187)

        the same thing MS does

        The elephant in the room.

        Kind of amazing that microsoft has had the nerve to go after Google's privacy practices, when its own regarding Bing generally arent as good. AFAIK Bing / MS Mail (whatever its called now) has historically scanned email in the same way as google, and the whole point of Bing is to datamine for advertising.

        • the same thing MS does

          The elephant in the room.

          Kind of amazing that microsoft has had the nerve to go after Google's privacy practices, when its own regarding Bing generally arent as good. AFAIK Bing / MS Mail (whatever its called now) has historically scanned email in the same way as google, and the whole point of Bing is to datamine for advertising.

          Bing Bing Bing! We have a winner! Related: http://media.fukung.net/images/3895/Pot%20Kettle%20Black.jpg [fukung.net]

        • by Sez Zero (586611)

          The elephant in the room.

          Kind of amazing that microsoft has had the nerve to go after Google's privacy practices, when its own regarding Bing generally arent as good.

          Exactly. My favorite is the quote:

          Scroogled will go on as long as Google keeps Scroogling people,' said a Microsoft spokesperson

          You hear that splash, too? Yes, it is the sound of Microsoft jumping the shark.

        • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @10:35AM (#43078963)

          Kind of amazing that microsoft has had the nerve to go after Google's privacy practices, when its own regarding Bing generally arent as good.

          Attacking your opponent, preemptively, where you are week is a fairly common tactic in political campaigns, especially for candidates that don't have a clear positive message to sell. It associates a negative which you might be vulnerable to with your opponent in the public eye, and makes it look (at least, for people who don't spend the effort to dig for the substance, but that's most of the public) like they are just engaging in "me too" attacks if they do point out your weakness.

          It is probably not even a little bit coincidental that the "Scroogled" campaign coincided with Microsoft bringing long-time political consultant/campaign manager Mark Penn onboard as an executive.

        • Kind of amazing that microsoft has had the nerve to go after Google's privacy practices, when its own regarding Bing generally arent as good.

          What's amazing about it? The public has shown itself to be remarkably stupid in terms of detecting hypocrisy. MS would have to be amazingly stupid not to look at any given political race and not realize they could do the same thing.

        • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @12:02PM (#43080121)

          AFAIK Bing / MS Mail (whatever its called now) has historically scanned email in the same way as google

          And you would be wrong.

          Here is Microsoft's statement on what Outlook does not do:

          Outlook.com only scans the contents of your email to help protect you and display, categorize, and sort your mail appropriately. Just like the postal service sorts and scans mail and packages for dangerous explosives and biohazards, Outlook.com scans your mail to help prevent spam, gray mail, phishing scams, viruses, malware, and other dangers and annoyances. Microsoft and its email services, including Outlook.com, Hotmail, and Office 365, do not use the content of customers’ private emails, communications, or documents to target advertising.

          http://www.scroogled.com/OurPosition [scroogled.com]

          This has been Microsoft's position since at least 2010 [computerworld.com].

          Microsoft does target ads through tracking cookies, like Google, yes. But they offer, like Google, a nice way to opt out of this. This site shows all the information they have on you and a centralized way to opt out of it all: https://choice.microsoft.com/en-US [microsoft.com]

          As for Bing, one of the nicer points of its privacy policy over Google is this statement:

          We store search terms (and the cookie IDs associated with search terms) separately from any account information that directly identifies the user, such as name, e-mail address, or phone numbers. We have technological safeguards in place designed to prevent the unauthorized correlation of this data and we remove the entirety of the IP address after 6 months, cookies and other cross session identifiers, after 18 months.

          http://www.microsoft.com/privacystatement/en-us/bing/default.aspx [microsoft.com]

          I don't believe Google has a similar clause in their privacy policy.

          Finally, it's worth remembering that Google earns 96% of their revenue from advertising. They are an advertising company and thrive on delivering relevant ads to you. When it comes down to it, when the choice is between your privacy and their company, your interests will always lose.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Branciforte (2437662)

      Google does not sell personal information to third parties. And they never have.

      At worst, they will use this as a signal to match ads to users.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kwyj1b0 (2757125)

        Google does not sell personal information to third parties. And they never have.

        At worst, they will use this as a signal to match ads to users.

        So if you have a physical mail, and someone gets to read it and insert ads with it (without knowing who you are - say they aren't allowed to see the address), it would be fine?

        While I get it that Gmail is "free", I also believe that certain expectations of privacy/regulations should translate from existing laws we have (or rather had) in place. No wiretapping? Then no reading my email either. Just changing the technology shouldn't require us to enact new rules and regulations.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by binarylarry (1338699)

          Gmail isn't some mandatory service you have to use. Granted *Microsoft*, Yahoo and everyone else does the same thing.

          If you're so paranoid, host your own email.

          • by ByOhTek (1181381)

            Nor is snail mail. Nor is public transportation, or are private vehicles (and any particular dealership), nor is any particular brand, etc.

            But when everyone is doing the same thing, and nobody stops them, and newcomers in the market can't resist the 'profit' perks from doing it (or can't offer some other nice option that the big names can). You suddenly have little/no choice in the matter, except going without. And this day in age, going without isn't always possible.

            And yes, I do host my own email. And I h

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Dr_Barnowl (709838)

          Mail has an expectation of privacy. You send it in an envelope.

          Email does not have an expectation of privacy. The envelope icon on all the major GUI programs for email is incredibly misleading. Email is more like a postcard - the content is in the open, it can be read by all the postmen and guys at the sorting office. It's always been like this.

          Google have always been open about processing your mail. It's right there in the agreement you click through when you sign up. People acting all shocked and shaken a

          • by gmuslera (3436)

            Email MUST not have an illusion of privacy. SMTP travels unencrypted between mail servers, and probably is stored and scanned by keywords by your truly US government security agencies just in case you do a bad taste joke, so forget about it if you send a mail that touches the US internet backbone, no matter where you have hosted your mail. That google or even microsoft could so statistical targetting of ads based on mailbox contents or recent mails that passed thru their smtp servers is small cookies compar

        • WRONG (Score:4, Insightful)

          by oGMo (379) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @09:51AM (#43078531)

          So if you have a physical mail, and someone gets to read it and insert ads with it (without knowing who you are - say they aren't allowed to see the address), it would be fine?

          Straw man. Despite MS's claims, "someone" at Google is not reading your email. If you had said: "So, if you have a physical mail, and an algorithm generates ads from the content to help support the Post Office, and it's completely anonymous to the advertisers, it would be fine?", you might have a valid argument.

          And I disagree with other posters that email doesn't have an expectation of privacy, though that doesn't mean it is private, unless you have strong end-to-end encryption.

        • by Qwavel (733416)

          Every e-mail company 'reads' your e-mail. They must, in order to do spam detection. The difference is that MS has temporarily stopped using that info for targetted ads in their e-mail product. They still do it (target ads based on analysis of your data) in other properties.

          If we fall for their trick of equating online activities with physical activities, and equating algorithmic analysis with a human reading, then we could convict every internet company right now.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Charliemopps (1157495)

        The fact of the matter is, Google HAS the information, and shouldn't. Selling it would be a second crime. The post office doesn't read every letter I send through the mail to figure out which junkmail I'd like best.

        • The post office could read every postcard I send through the mail to figure out which junkmail I'd like best.

          Fixed that for you. Email is a postcard, not a letter. If you want electronic letters instead of postcards, you use encryption.

          • by Nerdfest (867930)

            You also pay to send postcards. Gooogle is offereing these serices for 'free'. Do you think it's out of the goodness of their hearts? Advertising is how they make money.

            • I don't care how they make money. I don't care if being unable to read my mail would make gmail unprofitable (which I highly doubt) They shouldn't be doing it. Period.

          • The post office could have their mail carriers break into my house and steal my T.V. as well. But they don't. Just like they don't read my postcards.

            • If they don't read them, how do they deliver them?

              At the least, they have a 50% chance of looking at the side with the content on instead of the address. Are you saying that NONE of that information enters a postman's brain? Most modern postal systems also have OCR looking for postal sorting codes. They are almost certainly reading your postcards, in some fraction of the way that Google reads your Gmail. They may not act on it, but I suspect regulation is the only thing preventing them from attempting to mo

      • Google does not sell personal information to third parties.

        Not directly, no. But via cookies and ad hits, they let third parties infer personal information... So why Google's hands appear clean, they're not the innocent bystander they'd like to be seen as.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Whether through malice, incompetence, or simple inertia, privacy law tends to exhibit a substantial lack of imagination in how it protects information.

      A few professions with very long histories(doctors, lawyers, sometimes priests if your jurisdiction isn't so hot on church/state separation) who necessarily have access to privileged information in order to operate tend to be covered; but historically novel entities, or those who use novel inferential methods, tend not to be.

      (In practice, I suspect that adver

    • Google doesn't sell your info to companies. Google delivers ads to target demographics.

      This is a very important distinction that many people (apparently yourself included) don't understand, and one that Microsoft is basically outright lying about.

      They parse your email for keywords to determine which ad to show you, just the same way your email is parsed by a computer for a spam filter. And Microsoft does the same thing. They have contextual ads on their free email service as well.

      Given that Microsoft is outright lying, they need to be called out on it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash (241428)

      No, they're not.

      This about a computer determining what ads to show people based upon educated guesses as to what they might be interested in.

      Google is not selling this information. Nobody can go to Google and say "Here's $10, tell me if my neighbor's pregnant" or anything remotely close to it.

      The problem here is language. People use language that is similar for:

      - Describing a private detective investigating a named person

      - Describing a non-sentient computer doing textual analysis in order to prov

  • Nice catch theodp (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:16AM (#43077767)

    Those two patent drawings are plenty scary.

    This reminds me of the late '80s, when people still identified IBM and AT&T as the big bad boys and were willing to give Microsoft (which seemed like a scrappy startup led by a shy kid with thick glasses and long hair) a pass.

    Fast forward 25 years. Microsoft is the new IBM. Oracle is the new DEC. Google, Apple, and Amazon are the new Microsoft.

    • Inconveniently, while the new kids have grown up and gotten increasingly mean and creepy, that hasn't really stopped IBM and AT&T(or its larger post-breakup chunks) from still being the big bad boys. Team telco is still rent seeking, and IBM didn't build Watson to win at Jeopardy...

  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:20AM (#43077787) Journal

    Is Microsoft working under the theory that (since they have other profitable areas of business, and Google basically doesn't) it will be wholly worth it if the can salt the earth under both Google and their own advertising efforts [microsoft.com]?

    Or are they making the best of a bad situation by advertising the inferiority of their analytics capabilities as a privacy feature?

    Or are they simply hoping that mutually applicable accusations will stick to whoever they are made against first?

    • More Accurately (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Y2KDragon (525979) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @09:27AM (#43078293)
      Since Google admitted they do that, Microsoft is pointing at that and saying how Google is bad for it. What Microsoft isn't telling anyone is that they are doing EXACTLY THE SAME THING (well, may not exactly, but darn near close to it), but isn't telling you they are. Thus, their results are "better" because they are sneaky about it.
      • >What Microsoft isn't telling anyone is that they are doing EXACTLY THE SAME THING (well, may not exactly, but darn near close to it)

        MS says Outlook.com doesn't scan your personal emails to target ads. How is that exactly the same thing?

  • Pot, meet kettle. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte.drunksnipers@com> on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:20AM (#43077799) Homepage

    And Microsoft isn't doing the same?

    I'm all for informing people on what information they give to companies, and how those companies will use it. But at least don't be hypocritical about it.
    Also, a huge part of the world doesn't care, as is obvious by their Facebook and Twitter activity.

  • Scroogled, ha ha (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tibit (1762298) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:23AM (#43077815)

    I don't know why people even believe in this shit. What, you are all seriously so naive as to think Microsoft is not doing the very same thing? That's the whole fucking reason they offer a mail service, for crying out loud! There is no money in it for them at all unless they extract information that can be monetized. If you want a usable enough service, there can't be nearly enough ads there to pay for it. Google and MS are doing the same, they just use a common tactic of pretending like they are very different. Large-scale free mail hosting is a financial loss unless you mine the data. The data doesn't even necessarily need to be sold to third parties, there are other groups within Google and Microsoft that use it. Just think of how big of a language corpus it gives both companies to develop their other tools on. Imagine you're a search engine or a translation service startup. You're at a big disadvantage to both MS and Google precisely because you don't have billions of sentences of text as your reference.

    • I don't know why people even believe in this shit. What, you are all seriously so naive as to think Microsoft is not doing the very same thing? That's the whole fucking reason they offer a mail service, for crying out loud! There is no money in it for them at all unless they extract information that can be monetized. If you want a usable enough service, there can't be nearly enough ads there to pay for it. Google and MS are doing the same, they just use a common tactic of pretending like they are very different. Large-scale free mail hosting is a financial loss unless you mine the data. The data doesn't even necessarily need to be sold to third parties, there are other groups within Google and Microsoft that use it. Just think of how big of a language corpus it gives both companies to develop their other tools on. Imagine you're a search engine or a translation service startup. You're at a big disadvantage to both MS and Google precisely because you don't have billions of sentences of text as your reference.

      The funny thing is, you're correct, they are naive. Ever know anyone to read the fine print? Ever know anyone to read all of the terms of service or service agreements?

    • Given that Microsoft isn't alert enough to keep their SSL certificates up to date with Azure (one, among many other high profile failures), I trust Google more than Microsoft. In the end, I can only hope that my trust is well founded.

    • by c (8461)

      What, you are all seriously so naive as to think Microsoft is not doing the very same thing?

      I wouldn't discount the possibility that they tried it and it worked out so poorly that in the end it's just worth more to them to sabotage Google's efforts and try to reap some PR advantage.

      Personally, though, I'm with you. I'm betting on hypocrisy.

  • by drapetomaniac (1379039) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:23AM (#43077821)
    If I was an advertiser and saw the Sgroogled campaign - the message to me is that Google has a better advertiser platform.
  • So why use it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nukenerd (172703) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:23AM (#43077823)
    FTFA : -

    Nearly 115,000 people signed a petition asking Google to stop going through their Gmail

    So why the hell do they use Gmail? Here's a clue for them - use a proper email client.

    • Uh they aren't parsing your client, they're parsing your inbox... doesn't matter if you use gmail.com web or an app on a phone/tablet or Opera's/Mozilla's/Native pop mail client.

      You won't see ads outside of the web client but your search results on google.com are impacted and banners you see on other websites (if they are managed by google) will be impacted.

    • Re:So why use it? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mabhatter654 (561290) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:42AM (#43077961)

      ALL email is just POSTCARDS that anybody in the middle can read plainly. I wouldn't be surprised if the big ISPs were all doing it too. After all, it's not "private" until it passes through their servers into your assigned mailbox.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bickerdyke (670000)

        Email providers usually ADVERTISE that they're parsing and analyzing your email. They usually call it Spam-Filter or Virus-Scanner.

        Automated text analysis != reading your mails

        (please note. I'm not saying that automated text analysis never ever won't break your privacy. It may do so, but does not per se)

      • Many ISPs were caught using deep packet inspection services, not to check for viruses or spam, but to identify what their subscribers were looking at online so the information could be sold. Your ISP is doing it, Google is doing it, and I guarantee even Microsoft is doing it. If you move into the offline world, credit agencies do it too. They accumulate tons of data on you and then sell access to that data to credit card companies and other organizations. (Thus all those "You've Been Pre-Approved" offer

        • by 2phar (137027)

          Many ISPs were caught using deep packet inspection services, not to check for viruses or spam, but to identify what their subscribers were looking at online so the information could be sold

          Citation please? (no really, I'm interested)

  • Hang on... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Karellen (104380) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:25AM (#43077845) Homepage

    See also Scroogled by Cory Doctorow [craphound.com] (translations [craphound.com])

    Wow, Microsoft appropriating the name of someone else's pre-existing work in a particular domain, particularly when that domain is the criticism and commentary on a near-monopolist, and the original author is one of the most vocal and prominent proponents of copyright and other IP-related reform. I think my irony meter just exploded.

    • by symes (835608)

      Isn't it a contraction of Scrooge and Google? If so, then my personal feeling is Dickens might have something to say here.

  • by number6x (626555) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:26AM (#43077857)

    A Microsoft sponsored petition had 115,000 signatures! That's probably more people than are using Windows 8.

    Of course, we should double check and make sure all of those signatures belong to actual living people, and not dead people. MS has a history of fake grass roots campaigns involving dead people [nwsource.com]. You should all listen to your international corporate overlords and be outraged at being scroogled, but ignore the fact that Microsoft reserves the right to examine all of the data on your sky drive [wmpoweruser.com].

    It shouldn't suprise us that Microsoft products are so popular among the dead. After all, Balmer is one of the most brain-dead CEO's in the tech world. They used to be such a scrappy competitive company. Then the 1990's happened.

    • Well, the latter part of the 1990s at any rate.
    • by theVarangian (1948970) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:45AM (#43077977)

      A Microsoft sponsored petition had 115,000 signatures! That's probably more people than are using Windows 8.

      Of course, we should double check and make sure all of those signatures belong to actual living people, and not dead people. MS has a history of fake grass roots campaigns involving dead people [nwsource.com]. You should all listen to your international corporate overlords and be outraged at being scroogled, but ignore the fact that Microsoft reserves the right to examine all of the data on your sky drive [wmpoweruser.com].

      It shouldn't suprise us that Microsoft products are so popular among the dead. After all, Balmer is one of the most brain-dead CEO's in the tech world. They used to be such a scrappy competitive company. Then the 1990's happened.

      Asking Google to stop rifling through their e-mail is a perfectly reasonalbe request, as long as the people making that request understand that they will then either have to pay a subscription fee or that they will be told by Google to go someplace else where that feature is on offer. GMail is free because Google can rifle through your mail, harvest your personal data and sell it in an anonymized form (or so they claim) to advertisers. You either get an e-mail service where you can pay for privacy or you sacrifice your privacy to get e-mail for free. You can't have your cake and eat it too. There is no such thing as free lunch, even freetards pay a price for 'free stuff' it just isn't always money. It's amazing how hard it is for some people to understand that (general observation, not accusing number6x personally).

      • by Sepodati (746220)

        GMail is free because Google can rifle through your mail, harvest your personal data and sell it in an anonymized form (or so they claim) to advertisers.

        No data is sold, as I understand it. Harvested, yes. Then the advertisers tell Google what demographic they'd like to show ads to and Google shows the ad. No list is sent to advertisers. Just info on yes, X000 ads where shown to people we (Google) think are "moms" or whatever the demographic is.

        Facebook does it the same way. If it's otherwise (minus conspi

      • by Fastolfe (1470)

        It's interesting that nobody is pointing out that you can opt out of Google "rifling" through your e-mail (i.e., using the e-mail to determine ad relevancy in Gmail):
        https://www.google.com/settings/u/0/ads/preferences/ [google.com]

  • Fear Mongering (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:31AM (#43077883)

    So, Google can scan through emails anonymously and target ads based on that. Nothing new here at all. There is no tie to the actual account when it does this, and nobody is "reading my email". If, however, I'm not OK with algorithms parsing the email, I can just stop using the free service. Simple. And pointing to a settlement where Google paid out because it allowed Canadian pharmacy ads that were against US federal law has NOTHING to do with whether or not they are looking at your email.

    This is just fear mongering, much like the Scroogled campaign is to begin with. There are 425 million gmail users according to wikipedia. Having 115,000 complaints is such a small percentage of their user base that it's not really worth talking about. 0.025% Bottom line is that it's an ad-supported platform, and they provide targeted ads that are more relevant. That may be beyond the comprehension of some users and it might make them feel that somehow the whole Scroogled FUD is real, in which case they can opt to use another service.

    • by MtHuurne (602934)

      From the start, GMail offered a lot of storage space in exchange for the ad bots looking at your mail to provide context sensitive ads. If people are not OK with their mail being scanned by the ad bots, why did they create a GMail account in the first place? I can imagine an outrage if the terms and conditions were changed after people signed up, but that is not the case here.

  • If you want to have more privacy, pay for your email account and services or host them yourself. I use my own email server so no scroogling.
  • free market (Score:4, Funny)

    by Sterculius (2856655) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:36AM (#43077915)
    In a free market, Google is allowed to use their customer's personal information in any way they see fit, and the magical hand of the free market will punish Google if they do something wrong. So if Google finds out by reading your Gmail that you are cheating on your partner, and they extort money from you, that is just free market capitalism at work -- nothing wrong with that. By the same token, Microsoft is allowed, by the free market, to characterize Google in any way they see fit. After all, these are big corporations. The free market dictates that they can do anything they like, and so can their customers. Everybody is free, the market is free, and in the end the world is perfect and everyone is rich and happy.
    • by gorzek (647352)

      Extortion is already illegal, bro.

  • by Branciforte (2437662) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:36AM (#43077921)

    Microsoft likes to brag that 115,000 people signed the petition (if we are to believe Microsoft). They also like to brag that 3.5 million people visited the site.

    So that means the only 0.3% percent of the site visitors found Microsoft's argument compelling.

    • Microsoft likes to brag that 115,000 people signed the petition

      100,000 of those signees were spambots telling Microsoft that they enjoyed reading their posts and found their bloginfo very informative, and will definitely keep reading NIKE HYPERLINK!

  • by wbr1 (2538558)
    Does anyone really believe that Microsoft isn't selling free customer information in a similar way ?
    I bet you a dime to a donut they are.
    and after typing that last line I got a Dunkin Donuts add in Microsoft Bing how amazing.
    • by whoop (194)

      Is there a scroocrosoft.com domain? No. Therefore, Microsoft isn't scrooing anyone! Duh.

  • "First they ignore you..."

  • by Stewie241 (1035724) on Tuesday March 05, 2013 @08:59AM (#43078065)

    How is this different from a drug company approaching a doctor and saying 'Hey, I have this medication that can help people undergoing cancer treatment with their nausea.' Then the doctor, who has the personal information of his/her patients, makes targeted suggestions. Do you think the doctor recommends that medication to people with strep throat? Probably not. It's targeted. The drug company is not given any personal information.

    Of course - there is a difference - the doctors are not allowed to accept money from the drug companies. The reason for that is because you want the medical advice given by your medical professionals to be unbiased and not slanted by money paid to them by drug companies, because you need to be able to trust that your doctor has your best interests at heart.

    Neither Google nor Microsoft have any such relationship with their clients. People do not expect Google's advertisements or Microsoft's advertisements to be sound medical advice. The relationship is pretty transparent and I'm pretty sure everybody knows at least vaguely how those ads got there. But the same situation applies - Google is not passing personal information along to drug companies - they are merely pushing the ads out to those clients that meet certain criteria. Google's advertisers are not being given the personal information.

    • by N1AK (864906)

      Of course - there is a difference - the doctors are not allowed to accept money from the drug companies. The reason for that is because you want the medical advice given by your medical professionals to be unbiased and not slanted by money paid to them by drug companies, because you need to be able to trust that your doctor has your best interests at heart.

      But many are more likely to attend conferences in nice locations with decent perks etc where companies advertise their new drugs; I know people who work

      • Well, sure, there is that. I'm curious as to whether there actually is a feedback loop there. i.e. if the junkets are tied to the doctor actually recommending the drug or if they are merely a means of getting information about their drugs into the hands of doctors and the doctors are free to either recommend or not without effect on future junkets.

  • My problem with the Scroogled ad campaign is that they make it sound like there's an actual person at Google who is reading people's e-mails, taking notes about them, and then telling advertisers this information. "We'll put your add for hemorrhoid cream on Thomas Smith's screen. He recently e-mailed his brother, Reginald Smith, mentioning about pain he experienced while sitting down. Just to cover all bases, we'll also put your lower back balm ad there too."

    Instead, Google's computers build up a profile

  • I still trust Google way more than I trust Microsoft.
  • Whether or not Microsoft is making a legitimate point is irrelevant. This is clearly a marketing campaign and will be perceived as much. From the perspective of the vast majority of consumers Microsoft is no different than Google. Potentially worse, in fact, because of Microsoft's history. We can get into a whole debate about whether or not some of that perception is deserved, but this too is irrelevant. So in the eyes of most Microsoft is likely engaging in similar activities, regardless of what the realit

  • As long as the individual information is not shared with anyone.

  • two corporate giants going at each other and not a word about Apple, ah fresh news.
  • Yet they can't fix an expired ssl cert? http://tech.slashdot.org/story/13/03/05/0143218/microsoft-azure-failure-ssl-certificates-were-updated-sort-of [slashdot.org] or as they say "breakdown in our procedures for maintaining and monitoring these certificates was the root cause" aka your data is safer with Google.

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