Microsoft slams Google on privacy

Microsoft slams Google on privacy

Summary: Google's approach to privacy is a decade behind Microsoft, the Redmond software giant's chief privacy strategist told on Thursday in a video interview.

TOPICS: Google, Privacy, Security

Google's approach to privacy is a decade behind Microsoft, the Redmond software giant's chief privacy strategist told on Thursday in a video interview.

"Google's a great company, got some great products, but you know in some respects I think Google is where Microsoft was seven or 10 years ago," Peter Cullen, Microsoft's chief privacy strategist told

Cullen heads up the privacy arm of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group, which has led the company's drive to tackle security and privacy threats arising from its products. The specialist security group, headed up by ex-US federal prosecutor, Scott Charney, was established in 2002 as a response to heightened security concerns following the September 11 attacks.

Cullen said that Google had not invested enough to build privacy into its products, citing Street View, as a prime example.

"Microsoft has over 40 full-time people invested in privacy and over 400 part-time people. Google hasn't — at least from what I read about them — evolved to that," he said.

"We think about privacy as part of the core design... We have thought about how to design privacy into the product, as opposed to how to react to the negative impressions," he said.

Google's lead engineer for its Maps application Lars Rasmussen has previously brushed off criticisms of its approach to privacy. "So, these are all images that anyone could go out and take with a camera. We do take great care that if someone did feel their privacy was invaded, there is a way that they can easily tell us about it and we'll remove it right away," he said earlier this year.

Cullen expects Google to sharpen its approach to privacy in the future as Google's dominance of search advertising — exactly where Microsoft would like to make its mark — continues.

"The thing is, any time you get a provider in the market that has a predominantly large share of that market, questions start to get asked about their practices, about what their motives are," he said.

"I desperately hope that they ... in fact I expect that they will change. They will become as grown up as some of the larger companies around, so in some respects it's a predictable thing," added Cullen.

Google did not respond to requests for comment.

Topics: Google, Privacy, Security

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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  • Microsoft really are the kings

    of spin.

    This incident is a great demonstration of why people say Microsoft is a marking company first, and software second.

    Microsoft only has an interest in consumer privacy because they have been forced, in the courts, to respect it.

    How many people remember the uproar when it was discovered exactly what personal and identifying information XP was 'phoning home' with on product activation not long after XP's release?
  • Easy solution

    Tell the bastards nothing and apply that policy to every company we have dealings with. Personal information is exactly that - personal - and it should only ever be given out on a need-to-know basis. Both Microsoft and Google are not required by law to know who we are. So do not tell them.
  • What does google know about me?

    What I put into my email address signing up, just like my email address at MSN. They both have all my contacts. My contact details are private.

    Streetmaps and googlemaps show my workplace, home, family households etc but I'm not in the photos. Facebook has me tagged in 20 photos and shows my contact details to friends.

    Google tailors ads to suit me as part of a niche target market but I don't think MS is on top of this yet, at least, not nearly as accurately so its hard to see.

    Personally, I'm not too fussed about privacy. I have confidential stuff stored behind strong passwords and my bank is still liable for any misuse of my funds. My friends know that its possible for someone to hack into anyone's account and send spam and it just requires an explanation, but hey, we;re all reasonable people living in the 21st century, what do you expect.

    I just can't wait until MS start building computer chips that fit in your head, then let's see the privacy uproar - those are my memories!
  • Microsoft is 10 years ahead?

    Google isn't exactly a privacy hero, but Microsoft is just about the worst... phoning home anyone?

    Their 40 'privacy' employees must all just be spinning and not actually protecting anyones privacy....
  • Even...

    Well Microsoft are 10 years behind Google in terms of Search so how about we call this one even...
  • Microsoft - Privacy - 10 yrs ahead - Get Real

    CRAP, CRAP, CRAP, Microsoft will be the last person on earth to trust your privacy on.

    They even get the hardware vendors to lock in the BIOS and install other piece of hidden executables so people will be forced to use Vista and they think they are not intruding into people's choice of what to do?

    Tell them to get real. They have not come in with anything innovative at all especially so that that even these times, people still regards SQLServer as Sybase and Hotmail as another one of those things that MS can't be bother to be innovative about and just bought it.
  • Haha

    Yes pot
    You're black
  • Do you trust...

    Do you trust this man? NO
    Have you ever trusted Microsoft products? NO
    Is there any reason to change because this putz says otherwise? NO
  • Microsoft could be right!

    Microsoft might have hit the nail on the head when they say Google is 10 years behind them. Microsoft has reached that plateau where exciting & true innovation has hit a snag. Maybe I should say has stopped altogether.

    All Microsoft can do now is protect their previous development & hit out at everyone & I mean everyone else. They started by screwing with Sun's Java although this took a while to get to court, producing something quite inferior & completely against the principles Sun demanded when they offered Java up for development. It ran on ... geez ... what was it ... oh yes ... Windows & nothing elseWasn't supposed to be for just Windows. Also was supposed to run in a safety sandbox but didn't. That was their second major foray into legal proceedings.

    The first that made the courts was their monopoly practices which should have caused major disruption to their ability to continue as megla-maniacals. Eventually Mr George Dubbya replaced the then judge with some wimpering, I'll do whatever you want George, poser that watered down the result & Microsoft basically got away with it all. Typical corporate manipulation & typical American exultation of the bogus American dream.

    The third manipulation of proceedings to protect their monopoly & power was the financing of SCO, formerly Caldera Linux (I used their version in early days), with funding from 2 not so obvious subordinate companies belonging to Microsoft. SCO attempted to sue Linux organisations for not paying for their use of Unix software within Linux when SCO didn't even own the software. Sucked in SCO. I'm glad they're bankrupt! Microsoft failed against Linux then & there.

    Microsoft are also in a fight in Europe over the original monopoly problem but Europe are not falling for the mighty US$. Microsoft have had to pay a very hefty fee up till now & without changes that fee will go on & on & on.

    So Microsoft are truly not innovators any more but protectors against innovation & because of this they are doomed to failure. So sad, so sad!
  • Chips in the head!

    Firstlt Microsoft don't produce a lot of hardware & as for chipsets I can't see it happening from Microsoft in the future. They're too far behind the likes of Intel, AMD, Via, Samsung, Asus, NVidia & various others.
  • Innovation

    Something I meant to say before is that Google are 10 years behind because they are innovators as Microsoft once were about 10 years ago.