Microsoft Lays Into Google Android Privacy In ‘Scroogled’ Campaign

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Microsoft now laying into Google for passing on user information to app developers, as privacy war continues

Microsoft has heaped yet more opprobrium on Google over privacy, attacking Android as part of its continuing Scroogled marketing push.

google-london-officeHaving already slammed the way in which Gmail does targeted advertising, by scanning users’ messages, Microsoft has criticised its rival for handing over user details to app developers.

Are you getting Scroogled?

“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,” read a message on the updated Scroogled website.

“If you can’t trust Google’s app store, how can you trust them for anything?

“Google hands over details about you to app makers without any clear warning, placing your personal information in the hands of unknown third parties. The privacy breach could potentially lead to spam and online harassment.”

The Windows maker also issued the following video in its offensive against Google:

Microsoft has jumped on stories that emerged earlier this year. In February, Ben Edelman, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, urged the US government to look into how Google hands over names, geographic regions and email addresses of people who buy apps from its Play store

Google had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication, but earlier this year it told TechWeekEurope what it thought of the Scroogled campaign.

When asked about the squabble over email privacy, Google senior corporate counsel for privacy, Keith Enright, said  anyone who suggested Google’s ad-targetting algorithms infringe user privacy or run counter to users’ wishes was being “misleading and intellectually dishonest”.

Its terms and conditions for app developers and users of its Google Wallet explicitly state that such information will be handed over, and place emphasis on the developers’ need to keep personal data protected and ensure user privacy.

“If privacy is to become a genuine differentiator then consumers need a genuine choice and at present the challenge is in markets like search – because of Google’s market share the only game in town is collecting more and more data to compete with them,” Nick Pickles, director of the Big Brother Watch, told TechWeekEurope.

“The danger is that, as we’re seeing with Do Not Track, companies find ways to ignore or undermine consumer power and it’s essential that the law steps in to protect our ability to control our own data.”

Microsoft, meanwhile, is desperate for people to fall in love with its Windows Phone, and knows Android is miles ahead in terms of smartphone adoption.

Microsoft is also part of a team of organisations pushing the European Commission to take action on Google over its practices. They believe Google is favouring its own services over others unfairly in search, whilst claiming it is not right Google is requiring Android device makers to place its apps on their homescreens by default.

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