With every week that goes by it seems like we are heading closer and closer to the Cuban Missile Crisis (the tech version) of the Cold War between Google and Microsoft.
After last week’s (geeky) clashing, the plot thickens: Microsoft accusing Google of overriding Internet Explorer browser user privacy settings while Google responding with a statement of their own which I can only summarize as “Microsoft bullshitting (and Facebook is doing the same)”. Is it just me or the tech world suddenly became yellower?
Microsoft: Google Screwing Us (Too)!
Microsoft released a blog post yesterday where they are accusing Google of violating the privacy setting of their IE browser. They are disclosing that after Google’s Safari-gate they examined if Google is doing it to them also and they revealed that gasp gasp gasp gasp yes, they do:
“We’ve found that Google bypasses the P3P Privacy Protection feature in IE. The result is similar to the recent reports of Google’s circumvention of privacy protections in Apple’s Safari Web browser, even though the actual bypass mechanism Google uses is different.”
At first reading, it looks very bad for Google as it painted as another case of trampling the users privacy. However, unlike the Safari-gate, things turns out to be a little different here. When diving deeper into Microsoft’s post it appears that they aren’t feeling so strong about the private user information security also:
Are you kidding me? Basically, you let the websites themselves decide if to allow cookies or not! Thank you Microsoft for the great (fire)wall you created between the users and all the hackers/Malware/spammers/Lex Luthors out there! And I’m not the only one who think so.
But don’t get me wrong here, I DON’T think that Google should just walk over poor security protocols, regardless to how LAME they are. I am just pointing out that Microsoft probably isn’t as naive as it tried to portrait.
Google: Shut Up, You Are Just Old
Google response to Microsoft’s accusations arrived soon enough (as they traditionally react after Microsoft trashing them) after the story became VERY public. In a very long statement Google is essentially calling the P3P security protocol and Microsoft’s policy outdated:
“Today the Microsoft policy is widely non-operational. A 2010 research report indicated that over 11,000 websites were not issuing valid P3P policies as requested by Microsoft…” “…Today the Microsoft policy is widely non-operational.”
They are calling Microsoft policy not once, but twice “non-operational”! Google didn’t settle with just that but also referred the readers to a help center page of Microsoft’s old partner, Facebook. Here’s the important part of the page:
“The organization that established P3P, the World Wide Web Consortium, suspended its work on this standard several years ago because most modern web browsers do not fully support P3P. As a result, the P3P standard is now out of date and does not reflect technologies that are currently in use on the web, so most websites currently do not have P3P policies.”
Awkward…! Facebook (which Microsoft is invested in and fully dealing with) is also ignoring the P3P protocols… Even though Facebook is also bypassing it, still doesn’t make it right for Google to do so as well, but it is indicating that it isn’t as bad as you might have thought.
This was another chapter of the ongoing battle between the two tech giants and it is interesting to see if in the end, unlike the real Cold War, “nuclear weapons” will be eventually drawn…