Microsoft: Google Scans Gmail Messages

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft is targeting Google's Gmail in a new campaign designed to steer Internet email users towards the Redmond, Washington-based firm's own service. The basis for that attack: Google doesn't do enough to protect the privacy of Gmail users.

The Microsoft campaign, which is being carried out across the United States, is called "Don't get scroogled by Gmail." At the heart of that campaign: the fact that Google scans Gmail inboxes to figure out which advertisements should be displayed along with the messages.

Microsoft Investigates Responses to Gmail Advertising Practises

Microsoft says that its own studies have shown that approximately 7 in 10 Gmail users were unaware that Google was carrying out such scans on a routine basis. Microsoft adds that about 9 in 10 people oppose that practice.

For its part, Microsoft says it doesn't use such tactics. " believes your privacy is not for sale," noted Microsoft Online Services director, Stefan Weitz.

"We believe people should have choice and control over their private email messages, whether they are sharing banking information or pictures of their family or discussing their medical history." (Source:

Long History of Gmail Privacy Complaints

This is hardly the first time someone has complained about Gmail privacy. As soon as the service was introduced to the public in 2004 people complained about Google's practice of scanning emails in order to configure advertisements.

Rather than ditch the tactic, Google has long insisted that there's nothing wrong with email scanning. Its main defense: we've got to pay for a free email service somehow.

"Advertising keeps Google and many of the websites and services Google offers free of charge," Google noted in a recent statement.

"We work hard to make sure that ads are safe, unobtrusive and relevant. No humans read your email or Google account information in order to show you advertisements or related information." (Source:

With 69 million users, Gmail is currently the second-most popular free, web-based email service behind only Yahoo Mail, which boasts 77 million users. Microsoft's Hotmail / Outlook service is a distant third with just under 36 million users.

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