Google did clear things up a bit later and, after the initial exaggerated reaction, level-headed people started realizing that there was really nothing to fear, at least, nothing more than there already was.
But just as the dust was beginning to settle, Microsoft decided to stir it up again, by playing the role of the White Knight, of all things, bent on saving poor, defenseless users forced to live under the tyranny of Google.
Microsoft not only took the opportunity to bash Google in a blog post, it even launched a newspaper ad campaign labeled "Putting people first."
The company intended to show that its products are better because Microsoft works "to keep you safe and secure online, to give you control over your data, and to offer you the choice of saving your information on your hard drive, in the cloud, or on both."
The company didn't exactly specify how it's doing that or how Google isn't. The problem with Microsoft's campaign is that, not only is it not explaining how Google's products are "bad" for privacy, it doesn't explain how Microsoft's are better. One reason for this would be, of course, because they're not.
Google has responded to some of Microsoft's accusations, but there's nothing really new or surprising in there.
One argument that Microsoft loves is that Google reads your emails and documents "to benefit advertisers." "Google" does indeed "read" your emails. Google, where "Google" means computers, software and algorithms, is the one storing them, the one sending them to their destination and so on.
Microsoft reads your email as well, it wouldn't be able to stop any spam message if it didn't. But no person ever has access to your email, in Gmail or Hotmail, except under very strict circumstances.
The distinction is, according to Microsoft, that Google does it to benefit advertisers. But, aren't all of Microsoft's ads, including the ones in Hotmail, for the benefit of the advertisers, as well as for the benefit of Microsoft and, hopefully, for the benefit of the users. That's how advertising works and that's how it has always worked. Google is just better at it than Microsoft and it's not because it's "reading" your email.
Google doesn't need any defending. It's a huge company, more than capable and maybe even willing to do harm. But Microsoft is hardly the one in a position to point fingers.
Especially when its own privacy policies, the tens of them, give the company the same rights that Google has.
There are plenty of organizations and people out there ready to call out Google on any mishap and they've done it in the past. There's no need for Microsoft to do it, especially when the sole motive is to advertise its own products. Maybe it's best to leave the products to speak for themselves and do the fighting and dial back a bit on the PR rhetoric. Users will benefit.