Critics Label New Outlook as a “Surveillance Tool for Targeted Advertising”

The EU’s crackdown on privacy is starting to show its effects, especially in the design of Microsoft’s new Outlook. A recent disclosure in the app indicates that Microsoft is gathering personal data and selling it to advertisers who can then display targeted ads both inside and outside the app. According to Proton’s Edward Komenda, the new Outlook is no longer just an email service, but a data collection tool for Microsoft and 772 external partners as well as an advertising system for Microsoft itself.

This new disclosure is only shown to users in the EU and details how Microsoft and its partners scan the user’s PC to identify them, deliver personalized ads, and derive “audience insights.” Microsoft’s push into advertising has grown exponentially and the firm now aims to double its business in this area to $20 billion. Despite Microsoft’s assurance that it does not use personal data in emails to target ads, it sells user data to advertisers and service providers based on their interests, location, transactions, product usage, search queries, and content views.

European users are at least informed about the third parties that have access to their data, but UK users can take it a step further by exploring a list of advertising partners working with Microsoft. However, American users are kept in the dark due to the government’s lack of privacy legislation, leaving them unaware of the data sharing occurring.

This issue seems to predominantly impact users in the EU, but the implications of such data sharing are concerning for users worldwide. It is increasingly evident that Microsoft is following the path of major tech companies like Google and Meta, implying that widespread data sharing to support advertising is becoming more pervasive.

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