Microsoft is stepping up its attacks on Google with a salvo aimed at privacy concerns over the web giant’s Gmail service. The” Scroogled” campaign was initially launched in November to criticize Google Shopping, which shows search results paid for by companies. Now, Microsoft is using the campaign to warn users that Google scans users’ emails in order to identify keywords for placing advertisements alongside the messages.
In a study commissioned by Microsoft, 70% of people were unaware that major email providers scan their emails to produce targeted ads and 90% disapproved of the practice. Despite Microsoft’s campaign only now highlighting the issue, Gmail has been criticized for this practice since its introduction in 2004 as an invasion of user’s privacy and it has resulted in a number of lawsuits.
Google insists that the practice is not an invasion of privacy since it is automatic and no human ever reads a user’s messages. That’s not good enough for Microsoft, who naturally thinks customers will be better off with its own Outlook email service. Of course, there’s the issue that Outlook also shows ads, but users can rest easy as Microsoft says that it only scans emails to prevent spam, gray mail, phishing scams, viruses, malware, and other dangers and annoyances. What a relief.