Microsoft Scroogling around

Microsoft Gmail logo

Microsoft has launched an attack campaign against Google by launching Not to be mistaken with Scroogle which was a search engine that anonymised Google searches by acting as a proxy.

For once Microsoft has a point. As often in such cases they are saying the right thing for the wrong reasons. In this case Microsoft is using using the fact that they haven't taken things as far as Google to attack them. However I did learn that all Google Shopping results are paid for (I don't use Google Shopping).

I can't really blame any of these companies for exploiting user's private data without also blaming the users. Nobody is willing to pay a dime for an email account (unless it's "pro", and even then). This has formatted the industry to function this way. People used to think that email was such an intangible gadget that the thought of paying for it was surreal, this was at a time in which service providers were still searching for ways to be profitable.

Now that everyone is hooked to email, it is still rare for people to pay money for the service of email (or go through the effort of self-hosting), no matter how vital it has become for many of us.

What is left to say except the usual read the terms and conditions, and only if you agree should you click "agree". It's all in the terms, and Microsoft's terms are not any better. Microsoft has provisions to allow themselves to do the same exact thing Google is doing. It's just that they're not doing it, yet.

In an ideal world users would host their own services, in a less ideal world people would pay for the service and hold their providers accountable for maintaining privacy and protecting their data as much as legally and technically possible.

Other reading: John Gilmore on Google's Gmail terms-of-service (from 2004).