European privacy watchdogs examine Microsoft's services policies

Microsoft's recently modified product services agreement probed due to privacy concerns

Europe's top data privacy agency has launched a formal investigation into Microsoft's privacy policy.

Microsoft confirmed on Tuesday that it had received a letter from the Article 29 Working Party that it would proceed with a probe. On October 26, the computer giant was notified of a preliminary investigation. The Article 29 Working Party (A29 WP) is made up of the data regulators from all European Union member states as well as the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS).

In the short, formal letter addressed to Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer on December 17, the head of the A29 WP Jacob Kohnstamm, said that the investigation was taking place in response to changes in Microsoft's Services Agreement and the possibility that these would affect its privacy policy.

But Robin Koch, a spokesman for Microsoft in Brussels, said: "In updating the Microsoft Services Agreement we did not change our privacy policy. We are confident they will find Microsoft's long-standing commitment to privacy has not changed. And we're happy to answer any questions the officials may have."

He added that Microsoft is working on clarifying the language of the agreement to make clear its privacy commitments. Koch also reiterated Microsoft's position that although customer data may be used to improve services, such as malware and spam filters, it is never used to target advertising.

The Luxembourg data protection authority and the French data protection authority, CNIL, will take the lead in investigating the policy. Such investigations usually take a minimum of six months to complete. Companies are normally sent a questionnaire and can then respond to questions in bi-lateral talks.

Data protection is currently policed by national regulators in the European Union's 27 member states, but the state regulators generally follow the advice of the A29WP.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags antitrustMicrosoftregulationlegalgovernmentinternetsearch engines

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?