Microsoft (MSFT), which is seemingly trying to remake itself from a software company into a non-profit privacy advocate on par with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has shifted the focus of its anti-Google (GOOG) campaign to the realm of lobbying. The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft is pushing a bill in the Massachusetts state legislature that “would prohibit companies that provide schools with ‘a cloud-computing’ service… from using the information gleaned from schoolchildren for advertising or other commercial purposes.” While this sounds innocuous enough, the Journal says that it’s being crafted “to take aim at Google’s growing business of providing basic software like email and word processing over the Internet, which, in turn, is a growing threat to Microsoft’s cash-cow suite of Office tools.”
The issue, however, is that it doesn’t seem that Google’s Apps for Education service uses any advertising at all despite being free of charge for schools. In fact, a Google spokesperson tells the Journal that Google only uses “student data to fine-tune spam filtering and sort emails for features like ‘priority inbox.’ ”
While it’s possible that Google could require the use of ads once schools’ Apps for Education service agreements end, the company says it has no plans to do so at this time. However, this isn’t stopping Microsoft from trying to convince schools that Google Apps is too scary for students to use.
“Just because ads are not being displayed to students, it doesn’t mean something else isn’t being done with the data,” a Microsoft spokeswoman told the Journal.