Microsoft's data privacy balancing act

How much personal data should consumers share? It depends on where you stand and Microsoft stands in several places at once.

How much personal data should consumers share? It depends on where you stand and Microsoft stands in several places at once.

Wednesday is national Data Privacy Day and Microsoft will be releasing the results of a survey and also educational materials with tips to help consumers keep personal data personal.

Much of its advice is designed to help consumers avoid being victims of criminal acts such as identity theft, which means advising consumers to be wary about how much personal data they share online. In this regard, it seems that Microsoft has to tread a fine line: it wants to protect users of its OS and web browser, but it also has an interest in finding out as much as it legally can about Internet users because:

- It has a large online business and large online advertising network and it wants to target advertising and other promotional messages at individuals.

- It has a large business providing server-side technologies to web sites that want to track and target consumers with products and services.

Microsoft says it is very careful with data collected about Internet users and it has a strict privacy policy. But it says that data privacy has to be a shared responsibility between educated consumers, government laws, and ethical online businesses.

It seems that Microsoft has to walk a fine line on this issue. Microsoft advises consumers to be very careful about revealing too much personal information online, but yet on the other hand it provides technologies to third parties that help them use consumer information for commercial advantage.

It will be interesting to see where the line is drawn. The same personal information collected for commercial purposes could also be used for criminal purposes. How much should consumers share to get the benefits of targeted online services yet avoid becoming victims of criminal enterprises? - - - Please see: Microsoft Data Privacy Day event in San Francisco

Microsoft Blog: The Data Privacy Imperative.

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