Microsoft points Scroogled war machine at privacy worries over Android apps

Microsoft points Scroogled war machine at privacy worries over Android apps

Summary: Android and Google Play have been served a plate of Microsoft's Scroogled publicity campaign.


Microsoft's has fired another shot across Google bows with a few carefully-directed barbs about consumers' personal data that Google hands over to Android app developers.

"When you buy an Android app from the Google app store, they give the app maker your full name, email address and the neighborhood where you live. This occurs without clear warning every single time you buy an app," Microsoft warns in its ongoing Scroogled publicity campaign against its rival.

"Unlike Google, Windows Phone Store doesn't share your personal information with app makers," Microsoft claims on the Scroogled site.

2013-04-10 01.06.26 pm
Scroogled takes aim at Android.

Microsoft has posted two videos and a series of screenshots showing information detailed in the Google Checkout dashboard that app makers see when Google Play consumers purchase and cancel apps. The personally identifiable information it lists include first and last name, email address, city, state, zip code and country.

The campaign latches on to privacy concerns raised by an Australian app developer earlier this year over Google not explicitly asking permission from buyers to share that information with the developer. 

The developer noted that Apple did not share buyer information with developers that distribute apps on the App Store.

Google would not publicly comment on the story at the time, however, one of the key differences between the App Store and Google Play is that Apple is the "merchant of record" for App Store purchases, while developers that register on Google Play and sell paid apps or in-app purchases are the merchant of record. Since buying apps on Google Play requires Google Wallet, users have already agreed to share information under those terms.

Developers are bound by terms and conditions outlined in 4.3 of Google's Play developer terms, which puts the onus of protecting user information on the developer:

4.3 You agree that if you use the Market to distribute Products, you will protect the privacy and legal rights of users. If the users provide you with, or your Product accesses or uses, user names, passwords, or other login information or personal information, you must make the users aware that the information will be available to your Product, and you must provide legally adequate privacy notice and protection for those users. Further, your Product may only use that information for the limited purposes for which the user has given you permission to do so. If your Product stores personal or sensitive information provided by users, it must do so securely and only for as long as it is needed.

The user side of the agreement is tied up in acknowledgements made within the Google Play terms of service and Wallet terms.  

Under the Play terms, users acknowledge that: "in order to access certain services in Google Play, you may be required to provide information about yourself such as your name, address, and billing details".

Section 2.1 of the Wallet terms of service adds:

"When you sign up for Google Wallet, you are creating a Google Wallet Account that is associated with your Google Account. Depending on the Services of Google Wallet you use, you may be asked to provide information such as your name, contact information, Payment Instrument information, date of birth, and/or your social security number. We may verify your registration information with a third party verification vendor. In some cases, we may ask you to send us additional information, such as a copy of your driver’s license or passport, or to answer additional information to help us verify your identity." 

Topics: Android, Apps, Google, Microsoft

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Hmm

    So the company that made the most infected platform in history, wants us to believe that Google is somehow worse?
    • lol

      The most infected platform in history? get over it...
      • Truth hurts

        Microsoft is the most insecure platform in the history of computing.
        • Apple and oranges

          Not that I agree with your assessment or the message in the Scroogle ad here, but I can't believe you are making that comparison.

          All software has bugs and unintended security holes. Keywords are ALL and UNINTENDED.

          A company that intentionally harvests your personal information and shares, distributes and sells it is a much different beast. You can figure out what the keyword is there.

          Just for kicks I would put Adobe on the top of any list about security failures.
          • Microsoft is the most insecure OS in the history of computing

            Windows was developed by Steve Jobs as a single person operating system. It still is and will be insecure because of that. Microsoft can not fix that without a complete rewrite of the OS making another competing OS. That OS is RT. Microsoft will dump Windows and all purchased software will be worthless. Way to go Microsoft.
          • Make that Bill Gates. Steve RIP.

            RIP Steve
          • That was one

            Of the most ignorant and stupid comment I have seen on this site and considering how many stupid comments I have seen here, that says a lot.

            Bill Gates and Steve Jobs worked together on making an Operating System. But Bill Gates separated from Steve Jobs and used to rudiments of that O.S. to make Windows. This whole "Steve Jobs created Windows" or "Microsoft copied Apple" is all tremendously absurd.

            Windows is only as insecure as long as the user makes it insecure which means the user themselves have to download or install harmful software. That is why we have AV software. ALL operating systems are prone to harmful software. Why else is there Norton, Avast, Tec for Mac OS or AVG, Avast for Linux? This whole "Windows is the most insecure O.S. in the world is also incredibly stupid.

            "Microsoft is the most insecure O.S. in the history of computing". By the way Microsoft is not an operating system... they are a company...
        • Googles ultra modern platfrom is full of malware

          Windows phone and RT devices are virus proof.
          • you lie

            You lie, we know what any app can do before installation with Android, you know nothing ;-)
          • I'm sure there are plenty of Chinese and Russian hackers

            Who are quite aptly, ready to demonstrate otherwise.
            Alan Smithie
        • Truth hurts

          itguy10 is the most insecure user in the history of ZDNet.
          William Farrel
        • If Linux had

          More than >1% market share, it would be in the same position. Security through obscurity.
          • Seriously?

            Linux runs the internet. There's a reason no one wants to run Windows IIS. So where are all these infections?
          • Uh, how do computers get infected..?

            Not by them just sitting there... The #1 reason computers get infected is because of user error. In other words, downloading shady files and running them, which requires the user to do it. It's not like a server is actively searching the Internet and downloading things and then executing them (any good server application, that is).

            How often do we hear of servers, such as IIS, being infected requiring no user error (such as forgetting to put up a firewall, etc)?
        • Windows...not Microsoft

          Windows is attacked most because it's on 90% of PCs worldwide.

          Android is attacked most because it's on the vast majority of Smartphones worldwide.

          OS X, iOS, Linux are not immune to attacks just small portion of the vector's being attacked.

          Grow up and get some common sense about computer security.
    • The difference is who the problem is

      While Windows users may get viruses (although, in my more than 20 years of using Windows, I've never actually seen one on one of my own PCs) that steal your personal information, it is not as though MS themselves are distributing your personal information willy-nilly. I think the issue with Google is that they /themselves/ are essentially the world's most successful spyware company.

      They deserve to be called out on this stuff.
      x I'm tc
      • you lie

        You lie, we know what any app can do before installation with Android, with iPhone or windows you know nothing ;-)
      • whoopee

        This is stupid. This article says Google checkout discloses your name and address. Whoopee. Go to any ecommerce site and order something without them asking for your name and address. This is non news except that Microsoft is trying to make an issue of it. So what about all those Xbox live users? What about every single Windows system having to be "authorized" in order to work?
        • I disagree!

          When you go to an e-commerce site, you create a relationship with that e-commerce site. You understand that you are giving them your information in order to complete the transaction between you both. You can decide not to create that relationship.

          The average user (not those of us reading tech news) believes they are buying something from Google when they purchase from the Play.

          I read the Terms for Play quickly and did not see anything that said my information would be shared with the app provider, though they did link off to their standard privacy policy so it may be there (I don't use Google products, so I haven't read it).

          I think MS makes a valid point and one that should be discussed. Just because some are anti-MS, doesn't mean they don't make relevant points once in a while!
    • Trouble is

      Android is both, the worst infected modern OS in history and also steals your data