Microsoft adCenter Under Fire

    November 3, 2006

The data collection methods used by Microsoft’s adCenter service have been called into question. A complaint filed with the FTC equated adCenter’s contextual advertising practices to adware. According to a report in, two consumer advocacy groups called the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) filed the report.

The two groups are asking the FTC to investigate adCenter in order to find out what they do with the information they collect. The article indicates adCenter serves ads based on user behavior, not just contextually based on keywords searched. Oddly enough, the article mentions “other web companies” but specifically mentions Microsoft. One can only assume the “other web companies” are Google, Yahoo, and Ask (other contextual advertisers). The article features a quote from Microsoft’s senior attorney for privacy, Mike Hintze, who says

From what we have read, they have got it all wrong. We are very open with consumers about our privacy policies and practices across all of our online services and all of our advertising products. We would be happy to brief the Center for Digital Democracy and others about how adCenter works.

If Microsoft only uses a contextual process to serve ads, then it sounds like a lesson is indeed in order. The only user data you need when serving ads in this manner is a searched keyword or phrase to work off of. David Utter has more on this story.

Chris Richardson
Staff Writer | WebProNews