Microsoft vows to end lengthy and confusing privacy policies

Thursday, 9 May, 2019

Microsoft has stated in a lengthy blogpost that it will end those pesky, long and confusing privacy control policies and ‘give customers increased transparency and control over their data.’

How many of us routinely ignore those excessively long, often impenetrable privacy policies but just pretend we have read them and click on the ‘agree’ button? Well Microsoft has now committed itself to improving this state of affairs.

As we listened to the feedback, we came to appreciate that we could do more to meet our customers’ needs. While we publish significant information already, we’ve realised that customers want a simpler experience – information should be easier to find, easier to understand and easier to act through the tools we provide.

- Julie Brill: Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft

In essence, the new policy would allow users to actually decide what information is gathered on their activities. And see what is done with the data and why it was gathered in the first place. In doing so Microsoft said it would split data gathered into ‘required’ and ‘optional.’

While examples of ‘required data’ would include search terms, IP addresses and operating systems there has been little detail as to what constitutes ‘optional data.’ One example given is the reference to ‘data we collect about pictures people are inserting into Word documents,’ which is not really that helpful.

The problem at present is that despite the blogpost being over 1,300 words there is actually very little detail. There is a promise to ‘increase transparency’ and to allow users to more easily and simply to opt-in and opt-out, but that is all it is at present, a promise.

Commentators believe that this is in response to the continued flak being generated against Facebook and its ongoing struggles with the privacy of its customers. Like Apple, Microsoft is looking to hoover-up those disillusioned with Facebook by promising to address such concerns.

Image: MonoSol

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Tim is a veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.

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