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Microsoft: Worried about web privacy? Tell us everything...

Redmond wants to look at your privates

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Microsoft has launched a drive to stop people splurging their personal information all over the internet - by asking them to splurge their personal information all over the internet.

As well as series of telly commercials, Microsoft have designed a special questionnaire designed to discover whether visitors are “carefree surfers, digital veterans or somewhere in-between”.

Visitors to the new privacy microsite are asked to share details of which social networks they use, what sort of information they share publicly and how much care they take to cover their tracks online. This data is then harvested by Edelman, the company commissioned to carry out the survey, along with details of the IP address of whoever fills in the survey.

Although the website expressly states that it “does not request or collect any personal information”, this claim appears to be contradicted by the later statement:

This survey collects information about your response such as the Internet Protocol (IP) address through which you access the Internet and the date and time you access the survey. This information is used to help improve the survey, analyze trends, and administer the survey.

Microsoft's research indicates that 85% of Americans are concerned about their privacy online, indicating a clear need for privacy-invading questionnaires to help clear the problem up.

In a blog post, Ryan Gavin, Windows general manager, wrote: “Very few of us believe that sharing some personal data online is a bad thing. It’s part of our everyday routines to fill out profiles, login to sites, and oftentimes provide personal information like our credit card or phone numbers in order to take advantage of all the web has to offer. In fact, the more personal and relevant the web gets, the better it can get.

“Yet, at some point, we all draw a line where we are uncomfortable sharing more. And when we think we’re being tracked, particularly by those we may not have a direct relationship with, our tolerance drops," Gavin said, apparently with a straight face.

And while tracking isn’t bad per se, we typically reach our information-sharing breaking point with very personal data, like items related to our kids or our health.” ®

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