Microsoft Privacy Statements: A New Look

As we increasingly rely on technology for many aspects of our lives, the amount of data created continues to grow at an exponential rate. An important challenge for organizations is to provide privacy statements describing the collection, use and protection of data that are straightforward, yet comprehensive. Clarity and simplicity are key for time-pressed consumers, but large enterprises, governments, and other high-tech savvy individuals often need highly detailed information to use online services with confidence.

With each of these audiences in mind, we are unveiling initial improvements to the look and feel of many of our online privacy statements. We believe the changes enhance the appearance and functionality of our privacy statements, and enable us to more effectively layer important information. Our hope is that the changes will make privacy information easier to locate and use for many consumers.

We are not condensing our privacy statements, just making them easier for people to find the information they want at the level of detail they want. There are no material changes to our data-collection and use practices. We stand behind our policies and remain steadfast in the data-protection commitments we have made. Our customers can continue to rely on the privacy practices they’ve come to expect and appreciate from Microsoft.

Indeed, in 2006 we were one of the first companies to develop and deploy a layered privacy statement. At the time, that was forward-thinking. But, given the growth of online services and improvements in web technologies and design, we saw an opportunity to enhance how our statements are presented. Our new format will increase usability without sacrificing the detailed information that many customers, regulators, and policymakers expect and want to see.

The new format will enable greater structural consistency across privacy statements for different Microsoft products and services. It will also help customers go directly to the privacy statement for the specific product or service they’re using, rather than navigating through a general privacy statement and the many supplements that were added as the number of our products and services grew.  Our new right-hand navigation will help customers link directly to their desired section in the statement they are currently viewing. The horizontal buttons at the top can be used to switch between different privacy statements.

Our migration to the new format will be a steady and gradual transition. Microsoft.com and Bing are the first to make the change. Others will follow over time.

We hope our customers agree the new approach provides clearer and simpler summaries of our privacy practices, as well as detailed explanations for those who need or want them. We believe the changes will increase transparency by making it easier for people to locate and use relevant privacy information. Still, we’d like to hear from you. If you have thoughts on the new format, please submit a comment here.

About the Author
Brendon Lynch

Chief Privacy Officer, Microsoft

Brendon Lynch is the Chief Privacy Officer of Microsoft Corp., where he is responsible for creating and implementing privacy policy across the company, and influencing the creation of privacy and data protection technologies for customers. Brendon also serves on the Read more »