New Microsoft campaign promotes privacy prowess

After a series of smear ads lambasting Google's data privacy procedures, Microsoft has launched a campaign highlighting its privacy features

Microsoft has launched yet another privacy awareness campaign, but this time around, the company decided to focus more on its own privacy right-doings rather than Google's alleged wrongdoings. Declaring " your privacy is our priority," the campaign runs online, in print, and on TV, billing Microsoft as the "good guy" of online privacy and offering educational resources for those who want to better control what they share online.

In a blog post introducing the campaign, Microsoft quoted a consumer survey that found 85 percent of Americans are concerned about their online privacy, but "far fewer" take action. Ryan Gavin, Windows general manager, said, "While we don't pretend to have all of the answers, we do want to help raise awareness for how you can have greater choice and control as you browse the web."

The first video spot boasts about Internet Explorer's privacy protection features--including the fact that Do Not Track protection against advertising cookies is enabled by default--as part of the company's efforts to better help you safeguard your privacy online.

Enabling the Do Not Track feature out of the box has been a controversial move for Microsoft. Some members of the Digital Advertising Alliance, as well as Yahoo, said they would not honor the Do Not Track setting now that it is set as the default in IE10--yet their decision not to respect the setting only helps Microsoft look like the "good guy" in the eyes of consumers. Other browsers (such as Google's Chrome) have a similar feature, but it's not turned on by default.

How much 'I' is TMI?

"Very few of us believe that sharing some personal data online is a bad thing," Microsoft's Gavin added in the blog post. He noted that Internet users routinely provide information to websites and provide personal information for logons and purchases. Microsoft's point is that "at some point, we all draw a line where we are uncomfortable sharing more."

To help you figure out how well you protect your online privacy, Microsoft put together a Your Privacy Type survey, which asks you about your online behavior and then tells you how well you protect your privacy and offers improvement suggestions. For me, the result pointed toward a "Moderate Type" who is selective and particular about their privacy, and that's mainly by taking care of what is shared with whom on social networks.

Microsoft previously attacked Google directly in the "Don't get Scroogled" campaign, which promoted the email service as a safer alternative to Gmail because it doesn't scan your email to offer targeted ads. That campaign also highlighted privacy issues related to the Google Play store and Google Search, compared to Microsoft's rival products.

Microsoft isn't naming its rival directly in its new campaign, but it's not difficult to see who's the target. With Internet Explorer losing ground to Google's Chrome browser and a Senate commerce committee debate on the Do Not Track standards scheduled later this week, the timing of the new campaign could help Microsoft win some brownie points with users.

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